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Nielsen To Start Collecting Podcast Data As It Converts Its Ratings Methodology From Paper To Mobile


Nielsen is expanding its collection of data about podcast listening, but whether it publishes any of it remains to be seen. The ratings company says it will ask diary keepers of its radio ratings service to also log when they listen to a podcast, streaming radio or satellite radio. In doing so, Nielsen says they aim to provide a more holistic picture of audio listening in its 200 diary markets.


Nielsen’s paper diary is going away, to be replaced by a mobile diary in 2025. As first reported by Inside Radio, the new collection instrument, known as mSurvey, will use what Nielsen calls “a modernized method of data collection” that will be optimized for use on mobile phones, as well as usage on tablets and PCs.


“While the collection method is changing, the diary service will remain a survey-based probability sample, projectable to the population, with sample sizes comparable to what they are today,” said Steve Walker, VP of Product Management for U.S. Audio and TV Panels at Nielsen.


As with its decades-old paper diary, Nielsen will ask respondents to record all of their audio listening during a seven-day period that, just similar to the current paper methodology, runs Thursday to Wednesday. The mSurvey will also capture household demographics and ask respondents to provide any comments, same as the paper diary.


Walker says previous testing by Nielsen has shown the combination of an electronic diary and digital incentives will have more appeal to younger demographics. Instead of having to wait for Nielsen to mail a check after participants fill out their paper diary, mSurvey respondents will receive digital incentives, like electronic gift cards or other rewards that are delivered immediately once they submit their completed diary.


“While incentive amounts may stay similar to what they are today, digital incentives allow respondents the flexibility to choose rewards that best fit their lifestyle,” says Walker who oversees the team responsible for the testing and implementation of the electronic Audio Diary. “The electronic diary will also help to reduce Nielsen’s carbon footprint due to the paperless collection process, as well as lessen our reliance on the U.S. Postal Service.”


A full deployment of the new electronic diary will take place during the second half of 2025. In the meantime, Nielsen plans to conduct its first “larger scale” test in the third quarter of 2023. Walker says this year’s test “will give us initial feedback on how people enter their listening that can be incorporated before full rollout.” Follow-up trials will test the end-to-end process, from recruitment to reporting, so Nielsen can see how the new system affects compliance rates and other key performance indicators, along with audience levels.


Jay Nachlis, VP/ Consultant & Marketing Director at Coleman Insights says collecting data on devices that respondents prefer to use makes complete sense.


“Over the past ten to fifteen years since we adapted our methodologies to meet consumers where they are, Coleman Insights has seen multiple benefits,” he says in a statement that also reflects the input from his colleagues at Coleman. “There’s certainly reason to believe that Nielsen may see improved KPIs, and the mobile diary should be more attractive to younger demographics.”

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