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Nielsen Audio Says Goodbye Paper Diary, Hello Mobile Diary.


Note to radio listeners in Nielsen’s diary markets: It’s time to put your pencil away and pass your paper to the front of the class. After decades as a data collection instrument for radio, the paper diary is going away. Nielsen Audio plans to deploy a mobile diary in 2025.


“In our small markets or diary markets, the paper diary is being challenged as a data collection instrument in today’s environment,” says Bruce Hoynoski, Measurement Science Business Leader, Global Audience Measurement, Nielsen.


Nielsen’s decision to eliminate diaries in all TV markets has reinforced feelings that the diary has become obsolete. The ratings provider stopped using paper diaries for its local TV measurement service in 2017, replacing it with return path data collected from set-top boxes. “We don't have that option in audio and what we’ve been working on is what we refer to as a mobile diary,” Hoynoski said in a panel discussion with other Nielsen execs at last month’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.


In the works for years, the mobile diary would replace the paper version currently in use. It would allow Nielsen to collect reported listening data from diary-keepers through various online gateways, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Hoynoski said it’s “an easier way to do that [and] much more agreeable with the younger adults to take that on.”


Nielsen has put the mobile diary through a battery of tests and Hoynoski said it’s expected to have “a very positive impact on KPIs.”


An end-to-end test of the new mobile diary system is planned for the first half of 2025. Hoynoski said the purpose is to “test everything from start to finish to make sure that we haven't missed any Gremlins in the system.” A full deployment is planned for the second half of 2025.


“I think it’s going to be a game changer for our smaller markets in terms of accurately capturing and measuring audiences,” Hoynoski said.


The arrival of a mobile diary will likely be greeted with a thumbs-up from Nielsen clients in markets where radio is still being measured with the same tool used in the Eisenhower administration. Nielsen and a small market committee within its Audio Advisory Council began exploring potential new ways to collect, measure and report radio usage in diary markets back in 2015. The impetus was the growing belief among clients that diaries are no longer sufficient to measure today’s fragmented media marketplace.

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