Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Measuring Nielsen

"From the moment I stumbled onto the television audience measurement industry in 1999, what I have found utterly unexplainable is not how Nielsen maintains its stranglehold on the industry — with that I am well acquainted. No, what has perplexed me is how Nielsen executives manage never to talk about how they do what they do.

Here’s my list of eleven questions (when possible, I try to give my clients more than they pay for) aimed at uncovering some of what is assumed, ignored or swept under the rug related to local television ratings. Any Nielsen customers should feel free to forward this list to their representative. As a bonus, I will pay $100 to the first person, Nielsen employees not excluded, who sends me an answer in writing. Just tell me who gave you the answers. I will either cite the source or withhold the identity (responder’s choice) and post the reply on this blog. As always, please feel free to contact me with better questions, any comments or criticisms."

"Today’s Wall Street Journal has good coverage of the long-simmering debate between Comscore and Nielsen with regard to ranking large Web sites’ popularity and total unique visitors.

According to the article, Comscore shows ~20% higher unique visitor counts for many sites, apparently do to differences in panel composition. For example, Comscore shows 11.977 million visitors in March for AOL Body. Nielsen shows 9.962 for the same site and date range.

It’s a puzzlement that is almost as old as the Web itself. Jupiter/Media Metrix data used to conflict with other services, and today’s WSJ article didn’t even touch on data from Compete, Hitwise, and other services that today purport to actually be more accurate than Comscore/Nielsen due to their methodology."

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