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To Improve Proportionality, Nielsen Will Reuse Some Diary Market Participants.


Aiming to make its diary ratings sample more representative of the population it measures, Nielsen is reselecting a small portion of previous diary participant households and inviting them to once again complete a diary for a new ratings period.


The initiative, known as Targeted Reselects, began with the Spring 2024 survey in all diary markets. It marks the first time the company has intentionally invited past diary participants to be part of a new survey week.


The goal is to improve sample proportionality in difficult-to-reach demos. It’s no secret that Nielsen and other researchers have had problems getting young people to participate in surveys.


The target for the first wave is revisiting previous diary households that contained 18–34-year-olds and showed good compliance. Nielsen says it has reviewed the plans with the Media Rating Council and with key customers.


Proportionality is a measure of how closely the sample mirrors the demographic makeup of a market. Perfect proportionality is 100. Current proportionality indices for 18–34-year-olds, long a hard-to-reach group, are in the mid-to-high 60s in diary markets. That’s far from ideal. Nielsen says they expect reselects to have a positive impact of approximately a 10-point increase in 18-34 proportionality.


The plan is to source 10-15% of the total diary sample from reselected households.


Cost-Effective Way To Solve A Problem


Nielsen Audio Managing Director Rich Tunkel says getting previous diary households to participate again for another week is “a cost-effective way” to solve a problem without causing clients to incur an additional cost to increase sample sizes. “To go back to that relationship 18 months or a couple of years later, and re-invite them into another survey, is a very efficient and targeted way to get them to contribute to the sample and fill in some of those holes with a tough-to-reach group,” he told Inside Radio in an interview.


Targeted Reselects focuses on households that earlier exhibited good compliance and contain demographics that are coming up short in Nielsen samples. These are households that have already been screened and agreed to participate. All that’s left is re-inviting them.


To prevent a household from participating twice in the same survey period, Nielsen has adopted a cooling off period. In markets with two ratings books a year, a household wouldn’t be invited back for a full year. In continuously measured targets, the gap would be at least six months. “It is not okay to vote twice in an election. It is okay to vote again in the next election,” Tunkel says. “That's really what this is.”


No household would participate more than two times total. In addition, no household would be reinvited to participate three years after they first filled out a diary. By then, there may have been demographic changes: the18- to 34-year-old may have moved out, or the entire family could have relocated.


Heading into the Summer and Fall 2024 surveys, Nielsen says it will evaluate and expand the focus of Targeted Reselects to cover other difficult to measure sample groups.


Tunkel says it takes advantage of an asset Nielsen has had for a long time but never tapped into. “We establish a relationship with the diary keeper for one week. They fill out the diary, they give us great information, and then we never talked to them again.”


‘Extremely Comparable’ To Fresh Sample


Based on random chance, a small percentage of households are occasionally recruited that have already participated in a previous survey. Nielsen has studied this listening data and Tunkel says it is “extremely comparable” to fresh sample. “That's why we felt good going forward with a plan to set a specific target of 10 to 15%” of households in a survey made up of reused sample.


Originally slated for a Fall 2024 rollout, Targeted Reselects was moved up for a spring launch “after receiving client feedback on the importance of sample proportionality with younger respondents,” Nielsen explained in a memo to clients.


While the company is working with fewer resources following multiple waves of significant layoffs under its new private equity owners, Tunkel says they have a dedicated team that made sure reusing sample wouldn’t have a detrimental impact on ratings quality. Namely that second-timers weren’t tired of participating or weren’t as accurate as they were in their first go-round.


Using previous diary keepers to improve sample representation is part of a larger initiative to improve the diary ratings service. “We're doing a lot of things to enhance and increase participation for our diary service,” says Nielsen VP of Insights Jon Miller. In February it announced plans to modernize the service by converting to a mobile survey (mSurvey) and switching to a 100% address-based sample (ABS) methodology. Those plans are moving along. However, in response to client requests, Nielsen is making room for a few more tests and analysis for what it is calling its Audio Diary Transformation. The results are expected to be shared with the industry. “This is just one lever that we're able to pull right now that gives us the opportunity to directly target younger participation that can have a pretty immediate effect,” Miller said. “And there's more coming this year.”

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