Nielsen, a rant
The board is slow, so just thought I'd share a rant...
A few weeks ago I was called at home and informed that we had the honor of being selected as a Nielsen family... and that our diaries would be arriving soon and they would appreciate us filling them out.
Well, I wasn't too excited about the idea... but remembered back to my broadcasting days in TV where we lived and died by the A.C. Nielsen and (at that time) Arbitron numbers, so I thought I'd be a nice guy and participate.
It should be noted that I'm one of those guys who doesn't particularly like to be bothered unnecessarily on the home phone. ESPECIALLY my home phone, almost no one even knows that number (yes I still have a landline at home, I even have a ROTARY wall phone in the kitchen... via eBay). Any of YOU guys here are welcome to call me at any time of course, I've talked with several of you on the phone at work and was always glad to do so. But strangers, not so much.
Well the Nielsen calls started. I got the initial phone call to ask if I would participate. Then the call to let me know the diaries should be arriving. Then the call to make sure it arrived. Then the call to see how it was going and to see if I had any questions. Then another "just checking in" call. Then the call to let me know the diary period was ending the next day. The last call was after the diary period ended, to reminde me to send it in.
It was at that point that I informed the caller that I would not be sending them in, that I had informed the last caller to mark me as "No more calls" and that if I received another one I would no longer participate. So there.
So a couple of weeks go by, I come home from work and am informed by my better half that "Nielsen called, said they never got the diaries, so they'll be sending some new ones."
The new diaries arrived by mail yesterday. And this morning, as I was rushing out the door, the phone range. Being a smartass, I picked up that 1969 rotary receiver and answered "Hello, Nielsen."
And yes... it was them.
Just thought I'd share.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Hey, do you mind if I give you a quick call to tell you when to watch my show? And then a call when it's on to see if you are liking it...and then a follow up call to see if you enjoyed it...and to make sure you mark it in your little diary? I won't be too much trouble.
Why do they still do this? I mean, the cable companies can track what channels are being watched at all times on their boxes. They know. And doesn't Neilson (which has a floor in the building I work in, BTW, so if you need some kneecaps broken, let me know) only have like 1000 people on the diary at any time? I'm sure that there are many times that those 1000 people aren't watching many of the shows on TV, nor any of the couple hundred TV networks. So how do they calculate the ratings when THAT happens?
I'll ask when I am busting kneecaps.
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
I'm reminded of a story I heard in my radio days (daze). A not too honest General Manager was able to get ahold of not just one, but two Arbitron diaries. By using them to show heavy listening to his own station he was able to generate much higher ratings than reality would have dictated. This then turned into tens of thousands of dollars from ad agencies who purchased time just based on ratings. And, I believe, he got away with it. But that was many, many years ago.
What I truly do not understand, even though I've had it explained to me multiple times, is that in surveys a smaller number of respondents is more accurate than a larger number. Makes little to no sense to me, but I guess 1,000 Nielsen books in a single market added together with several thousand others spread across the country can provide some form of reliabile predictability. And I agree with Shane on this. With so many set-top boxes communicating back to the mothership, wouldn't that be a FAR better way to determine ratings?
From a purely marketing prospective, these old fashioned ways of measuring and predicting audiences has been a major factor in making on-line advertising so attractive to number crunchers (i.e.- the media buyers) at big ad agencies. However, another thing I don't understand is why the B&H Photo algorithm keeps promoting things to me after I've already recently purchased them... from B&H.
[Nick Griffin] " I don't understand is why the B&H Photo algorithm keeps promoting things to me after I've already recently purchased them... from B&H."
Oh yeah that happens to me ALL the time.
Also similar to Nick's story, when I worked in broadcast TV back when the dinosaurs roamed, one of the assistant station managers was selected to be a Nielsen family. Everyone in the station was jumping for joy, but I couldn't help thinking "Ummm... isn't that cheating? Like, a lot?"
Actually, I always thought the whole ratings-based thing was cheating. Back when I was an on-air news guy for too-many years, and then later when I was a promotions guy, all of the energy was forced into the "books," the four sweeps months, and never-ending discussion of trying to "spike" the books with some salacious news series or such. I always thought that if we were attempting to "spike" the book, then weren't we trying to dishonestly inflate the ratings above that which they truly were on a day-to-day basis, and thus inflate the rates that were being charged to advertisers and the claims made to those advertisers bragging about the number of eyeballs seeing their commercials? It all seemed sleazily dishonest to me (and I'm not even particularly overly Boy Scoutish).
I guess though when everyone else is doing exactly the same thing, it all evens out. In a smarmy kind of way.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.