In the USA, The Council for Research Excellence has announced that it 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 body was created by Nielsen Media Research (NMR) in 2005, via a dedicated US$2.5 million R&D fund, and renewed for an additional US$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 behaviour between those households or persons that agree to participate in Nielsen's samples and those that refuse to participate. The question is do these differences have a material impact on reported ratings? The results could lead to new methods of panel recruitment.
The project will be led by Ceril Shagrin, Senior Vice President for Corporate Research at Univision. The study is expected to take two years to complete at a cost of more than US$1m. A panel of experts will provide independent analysis and interpretation of the research, which will be conducted by NMR.
According to Shagrin, the study will attempt to measure all non-responders. 'Since the ratings are used as currency for more than US$70 billion in television advertising, we need to make certain that these estimates are as accurate as possible.'
Paul Donato, Nielsen's Chief Research Officer, said the proposal showed 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 study will be questionnaire-based and will make significant use of incentives.
The body is online at www.researchexcellence.com .
All articles 2006-20 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.