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Nielsen’s New Mobile Survey Aims To Track More Holistic Audio Pie, Including Podcasts.


Nielsen will capture more than just AM/FM radio listening with its forthcoming mobile-based data collection in mid- and small-sized cities where electric measurement is not used. The new listening collection instrument for diary markets acknowledges that people are consuming other audio sources and allows them to record their listening to podcasting, the online streams of broadcast radio stations, music streaming services, and satellite radio.


Sometime next year, Nielsen says paper diaries will be replaced by a mobile diary, a web-based survey that can be filled out on a phone or other digital device. The mSurvey, which is not an app, uses the same data collection as the paper diary: participants enter their age, sex, and ethnicity, and then record their listening occasions each day over a seven-day period. 


Nielsen Audio Managing Director Rich Tunkel says the mSurvey aims to provide a more holistic picture of audio listening. 


“The survey design allows for any type of streaming entry, so we can capture listening to anything people listen to, and this data will roll into custom analyses and insights, initially,” Tunkel explains. Collecting listening data on other audio sources “gives us a view into what's going on in the marketplace to plan for future product development…It then allows us to have much deeper conversations with [clients] and provide insights that will help them plan for and strategize about where they make their content available.”


But users should not expect to see podcasting, satellite radio, or pureplay listening estimates in Nielsen’s local market reports that it provides to radio stations. “Our local market ratings reports and software remain designed to report on FCC-licensed call letters and the streams associated with those call letters,” Tunkel says.


A battery of tests is slated before mSurvey is commercialized sometime next year. Two early phase tests have been completed: one with a small panel of people in fall 2023 and a larger “friends and family” test completed a few weeks ago. A trial with former diary-keepers, expected to wrap up by the end of June, will examine the user experience and design. A targeted separate sample audience test is scheduled for the back half of this year. The final milestone is a full separate sample audience test in the first part of 2025. Those latter tests will study the impact on response rates, proportionality, and listening levels.


Nielsen has presented the plan to its clients and various oversight committees, and recently provided more detail to the Media Rating Council. Tunkel says MRC provided positive feedback. “People understand moving away from paper and pencil to this form of measurement just makes sense,” he says. “But everyone's holding out judgment to see what the results look like, when they see the audience estimates.”


Read more about Nielsen’s plans to reinvent its diary measurement service in Inside Radio HERE.

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