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Richard Zackon

Member since March 2003Contact Richard

  • Facilitator Council for Research Excellence
  • 888c Eighth Avenue
  • #600
  • New York New York
  • 10019 USA

Articles by Richard All articles by Richard

  • Beginner's Mind in MediaDailyNews on 02/16/2018

    We experts would be well served by bringing qualities of the beginner's mind to the table. It's important to practice curiosity and wonder.

Comments by Richard All comments by Richard

  • How Accurate Are Those Ratings? It's Easy to Find Out by Steve Sternberg (TV Everywhere on 11/30/2016)

    Steve, First, I apologize for failing in my reply to tip my hat to you for your leadership on the VCM project. It clearly was a legacy study in which you and your colleagues can take pride. I do not recall Nielsen declining to make equipment available to CRE for the proposed study. I’m not refuting, I’m just saying I don’t recall. Informed observers know that CRE members do not follow Nielsen’s marching orders, but they certainly respect Nielsen’s intellectual property rights.  Perhaps seeing this exchange CRE may want to revisit the idea. Finally, regarding the potential value of the research proposal, my assessment is that it would not qualify as a definitive ground truth. One of the key findings of VCM was that serious caution is called for in interpreting self-report data for media use.

  • How Accurate Are Those Ratings? It's Easy to Find Out by Steve Sternberg (TV Everywhere on 11/30/2016)

    As the Facilitator of the CRE who was present at its founding, I owe it to the readers of MediaPost to offer a response to this piece. Regarding the findings from the VCM study, trained statisticians on the CRE fully expected the gap between results from the Nielsen meter sample and the observational results to grow as audience segments narrowed. It is an a priori principle of statistics, not a noteworthy empirical finding, that sampling error increases as sample size decreases. Regarding the proposal made in the piece, Steve implies his idea was not pursued because Nielsen was opposed to it. In fact, CRE members choose research projects independently of Nielsen. It was the case that most of Steve’s CRE colleagues did not vote to support the proposal. While the methodology set forth in the column may yield some anecdotal insights, it is fraught with issues of reliability and validity and is therefore unlikely to yield definitive results. Having 50-100 TV executives write down their media behavior for one day or one week hardly qualifies as a definitive ground truth to assess ratings accuracy. If anyone believes that written self-reports by small samples warrants our confidence, they should encourage Nielsen to maintain its soon to be retired local market diary methodology. Finally, contrary to the implication here, the CRE, even after Steve’s departure, has remained an entity capable of doing real, worthwhile independent research designed solely to advance how audiences are measured, without any sales-related agenda or bias. Steve characterizes that spirit well and it has proven not to be a naïve notion. See for example, our latest work product: Innovative thinking is to be encouraged and the VCM study is a testament to that. To improve audience measurement, however, methodological rigor must be applied and easy shortcuts are usually best avoided.

  • Nielsen Probes Viewers' Minds: Finds They Are Distracted By Screens, May Not Comply With People Meters by Joe Mandese (MediaDailyNews on 09/09/2016)

    We appreciate MediaPost reporting on the work Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience is conducting for the Council for Research Excellence. Neuroscience promises to help us understand audiences and improve their measurement and that promise appears to be coming sooner than we may have once thought. Despite the headline and tone of the article, the preliminary results of the CRE study have not set off any alarm bells about the current compliance of the Nielsen People Meter panel. Let’s not draw overly bold inferences based upon the behavior of 12 individuals in a lab setting. The pilot study was not designed to gauge the compliance of panelists. The MRC has long monitored button-pushing compliance and its careful audits are not limited to 12 individuals in a lab tested one time at minute 42 of a 45 minute session. The purpose of the CRE neuro study is to help inform the development of new technologies and metrics used to capture viewing behavior. More specifically, results from the research are intended to provide insight into how the proliferation of multi-platform devices impact what the future definition of engagement might be As part of this, we shared preliminary results of one piece of a pilot study looking at button pushing behavior of people meter panelists so as to inform future instruction to panelists. Let’s not confuse pilot results with results from a valid and reliable study.

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