Nielsen US? research council to study ways to improve TV measurement

MUMBAI: US television ratings service provider Nielsen has announced that The Council for Research Excellence will soon begin its first detailed study into one of the fundamentals of television audience measurement -- the quality of the research samples from which the ratings are drawn.

The Council for Research Excellence was created by Nielsen last year via a dedicated $2.5 million R&D fund, and renewed for an additional $2.5 million earlier this year. The Council serves as an independent forum for Nielsen to gain greater insights and to ensure that client priorities are reflected in Nielsen's R&D spending.

The Council's first study will explore "non-response bias" in Nielsen's national and local samples, including People Meters and Diary methodologies. The study will seek to understand if there are differences in viewing behavior between those households or persons that agree to participate in Nielsen's samples and those that refuse to participate.

Do these differences have a material impact on reported ratings? The study is expected to take two years to complete at a cost of more than $1 million. A panel of experts will provide independent analysis and interpretation of the research that will be conducted by Nielsen Media Research.

This study will try to measure all non-responders,.Nielsen says that this is a first step in understanding if the television viewing among cooperators differs in any material way from viewing habits among people who refuse to participate in Nielsen's samples. Since the ratings are used as currency for more than $70 billion in television advertising, we need to make certain that these estimates are as accurate as possible.

The chair of the Council is Ford global media manager Mark Kaline. He says, "This is an important subject and I am very proud of the work that's been done already to dimension the scope of this research project. This is a great example of how the Council will work to benefit all who rely on audience research."

Nielsen senior VP and chief research officer paul Donato says, "This proposal shows that the Council will produce research of the highest quality. This research has the potential to bring significant improvements to audience measurement. Results could offer new models for recruitment as well as improved sample representation."

The research project will use questionnaires to collect responses. Incentives will have a key role in the study.

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