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Nielsen Data and Research: One of the Many Tools in Our Media Toolbox

Laura Pagel

What’s Up with Nielsen?

Since the 1950s the Nielsen ratings system has been the leading source of television audience measurement information. Initially, ratings were gathered by viewer “diaries”, with consumers self-recording their viewing habits. Today, in the new world … full of data, metrics and messaging, Nielsen has developed new standards for measurement of television viewing, radio listening, mobile usage and even retail activity.

For television reporting, now instead of collecting data that has been recorded “by hand”, information is gathered electronically with set top meters and in-home scanners, which gives Nielsen the ability to track consumer activity on a minute by minute basis.

Another big change is that consumers are viewing television programming on more than just their television sets. They are watching on the Internet and on mobile devices, in-home and out-of-home, live and time-shifted, free and paid, rebroadcast and original programs. Nielsen has kept up with all of these changes and tracks all of these platforms.

The Q4 2016 Comparable Metrics Report

Earlier this year, Nielsen released their Q4 2016 Comparable Metrics Report, which provides data on TV, radio, TV-connected devices, smartphones and tablets. It looks at how many adult consumers are using each platform, how often they access each platform and how long they engage with each platform. In addition to total usage, it also breaks the results down by age, race and ethnicity, and takes the digital data one step further by providing figures for video, streaming audio and social networking.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • Overall, adults 18+ spend over 13 hours per week listening to the radio. Ninety-five percent of adults age 35-49 tune into the radio each week. Our takeaway: Given the propensity of adults listening with frequency, how can radio (broadcast or streaming) fit into your media mix?
  • TV accounts for 43 percent of the total average audience among adults 18+. Adult TV viewers are watching an average of 5.6 out of 7 days per week. Adults 50+ spend the most time per week watching TV – 46 hours and 32 minutes. Our takeaway: If the budget allows, consider TV to reach the key healthcare target audience of adults 50+.
  • Smartphones are more heavily used than TV among adults age 18-34. Our takeaway: Not a surprising result, so when targeting the younger demographic amp up your mobile presence.

What’s In It for Me?

This data does not exist in a vacuum. While it is important information for our consideration, when making recommendations for our clients we look closer – at data in their specific markets, and for their particular target audiences. So while we would not rely on this information alone as rationale for a campaign, it does speak to more global shifts in media usage, some that may be obvious and some that we may find surprising.

The Roberts Group has been subscribing to Nielsen data since our start more than 35 years ago, and now more than ever it helps us to make informed, strategic recommendations for our clients – leading to increased exposure, successful campaigns and a greater return on marketing dollars.

To learn more about how we use Nielsen research and the other tools in our media toolbox, feel free to contact me (lpagel@therobertsgroup.com) or leave a comment here.


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