Nielsen To Radio: Don't Boast And Post
August 25, 2015
A few years ago as the social space was maturing - what was then Arbitron, now Nielsen, created a system of monitoring online chatter.
It stemmed from two things that started to happen.
One - people associated with monitored brands began "Facebooking" about their ratings and/or singling out panel members on Twitter to influence listening habits.
Two - listeners were sharing socially about participating in the ratings process.
And as you see in the examples below -- the audience is still doing it:
And while it's tempting for some to interact with folks who freely divulge they are part of the ratings process, we could do real damage to our station if we do.
Dave Willinski, Nielsen's Senior Principal Policy Analyst, shared Nielsen's Social Media "Dos and Don'ts" policy.
It's an important read as we must all take it upon ourselves to understand when our posts or interaction violate Nielsen's guidelines.
I've highlighted some of the key points.
You'll find similarities to what we've always known when it comes to potential ratings bias -- but there's one area that's very different and is critical to a team understanding.
Here is what constitutes Rating Bias or Rating Distortion if posted socially by a station or by anyone identifiable as associated to the station:
- PPM Rating Bias example: "If you have a PPM, be sure to carry it whenever you listen to our show."
- PPM Rating Distortion example: "Let me know if you've got a PPM meter."
- Diary Rating Bias example: "If Nielsen asks you to become a diary keeper, say 'Yes.'"
- Diary Rating Distortion example: "If you have a Nielsen diary, be sure to write down that you listen all day long."
They feel like pretty obvious guidelines to most of us.
But where Nielsen's policy gets interesting is addressing "boasting."
Radio has always been allowed to use the airwaves to brag that we are "Rated Number One" - but can we also do this socially?
Nielsen discourages stations from referring to successful ratings results via social -- even though such references are generally not treated as Ratings Bias if made on-air.
Nielsen feels that because of the interactive personal nature of social media, references to Nielsen or ratings success may prompt listeners who are diary keepers or panelists to reach out to you socially and identify themselves -- which would result in respondents being eliminated from the sample.
It makes sense.
Even though panelists/diary holders are told not to reveal themselves socially - seeing their station "brag" about ratings could make them think they had a little part in the station's success and prompt them to forget the rules, comment back and ultimately be removed from the sample.
The repercussions vary in regards to Nielsen's response to activities with Rating Bias or Rating Distortion potential. They can include: special notices, flagging of a station's estimates, "below-the-line" listing (placing the estimates out of alphabetical sequence below a special distinguishing line), to delistment, or a combination of those responses.
Bottom line, there are responsibilities, codes of conduct and basic fundamentals we all must accept when we are the voice of any brand.
Managing chaos is all we set ourselves up for when we haven't created parameters and expectations of who's doing what and where socially. Create guidelines for effective social communication; this allows the staff to manage what is expected from them.
Re-visit this quarterly.
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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