How does Nielsen & Arbitron Measure Ratings to keep TV & Radio Stations Honest
There is an old southern saying that goes:
How do you know who your Daddy is? Because your Momma told you so.
When you are looking to launch a traditional radio or television advertising campaign, or a direct response TV or direct response radio advertising campaign, how do you know what you are buying? The answer is you don’t, unless you understand what “impressions” are and have data from a 3rd party verifier, like Nielsen or Arbitron. We have been over this in the past, (with the Doritos analogy), but let’s give this a new look. Let’s say you are a law firm with a new marketing plan, and you are going to buy some Direct Mail. You purchase a list of 100,000 homes. You go out and have 100,000 pieces printed. You pay .18 cents a piece to have them printed and mailed. Usually 10% of direct mail comes back undeliverable, so, doing some easy math, your campaign reached 90,000 homes. Here, you have information and tools at your disposal that give you a clear understanding of just how many hands your mailing is going to get into.
So how does purchasing direct mail relate to purchasing TV & Radio advertising? The answer is: it doesn’t. Over the years, we have spoken with THOUSANDS of small business owners and executives. Nine out of ten I have spoken with did not have a clue what an “impression” was. In fact, many of them did not even want to know. In the past, they had blindly purchased “spots” from Cable, TV, or Radio stations. They believed that negotiating the best price per spot was all that was important. If you’re currently among those nine (or have been in the past), don’t feel bad. It is not your fault. The stations and many agencies out there would rather just keep you in the dark. Selling “spots” is very easy for them; educating clients is difficult. I will just be blunt: what most stations and agencies are selling is “snake oil”. Remember Little House on the Prairie? Dr. Showbaum’s bottle of Magical Elixir, cures all illnesses……..
In an attempt to keep business people from buying Magical Elixir, Nielsen and Arbitron were formed. Arbitron measures impressions for Radio and Nielsen measure impressions for T.V. Both companies are independent of the TV and Radio stations, which is very important. The bottom line is that these guys can give you an accurate and researched average of how many people will hear or see your spot each time it runs.
In order to access data from Nielsen and Arbitron, however, you must subscribe to their service. Subscriptions are very expensive and not something most businesses can afford. We have access to Nielsen and Arbitron data and will tell you how many people will hear or see your spot before you purchase anything.
When purchasing TV and Radio advertising, Momma will probably not be of much help. Nielsen & Arbitron 3rd party verification is the next best thing.
As always, feel free to call our office with any questions you may have about TV or radio advertising. Even if you are not spending money with us, we are happy to help.