Why I Think You Should Dump Nielsen


(By Rick Fink) I’m not saying this because of their recent decision to go to a “subscribers first” policy. In fact, I agree with their decision and frankly, I am not sure why this hasn’t always been their policy. It never made sense to me that stations not paying for the service had access to it, even if it was in a roundabout way.

Here are the main reasons I have always been a staunch opponent of Nielsen or any other ratings service. Simply put, they make your sales efforts weaker and have caused far more campaigns to fail than they have ever helped.

In nearly every study conducted about how and what makes advertising campaigns successful, research shows that Creative is the most important element in determining whether a campaign is successful or not.

Even Nielsen’s own study suggests that Creative, at 47%, is the most important element attributed to the success of a campaign. That study also stated that Creative is more important than Reach at 22%, Brand Strength 15%, Targeting 9%, Recency 5%, and Context 2%. Of these, only Reach and Targeting ( 31% combined) have anything to do with the success of an ad campaign. (I apologize for using Nielsen’s information for which I did not pay.)

Just imagine how strong radio would be today if instead of spending money on “ratings”, station owners invested the money on training their media reps and on-air talent how to sell and use radio correctly, and how to create, write, and produce great ads and ad campaigns.

Let’s be clear, the reason we have heard this statement, “I’ve tried radio once and it didn’t work”, far too often is not because of the number of listeners the station had or didn’t have, or whether or not they were reaching the “right” demographic. In most cases, it didn’t work because the ad or Creative SUCKED and/or they didn’t have enough frequency or consistency to give it a chance to work. It had nothing to do with ratings or rankings!

Continually spending money, year after year, on information that is reliable for only a matter of months or one year seems silly. Dump Nielsen NOW and invest that money into training your sellers and on-air team to sell radio correctly, and create, write, and produce GREAT radio ads.

Rick Fink is President of ENS Media. Ens Media specializes in helping media companies across North America create stronger partnerships with locally owned businesses and increase stations’ local direct sales with several proven revenue-generating programs.



  1. This is the final piece of the puzzle. Ratings benefit the larger companies and in turn the smaller companies are giving “free” barter advertising and that has increased. You don’t need ratings when syndicators are providing spots to clients in the form of bartered programming and their spots clear a market. Every time stations add another syndicated program they are making large companies money, it cuts out the hassle of dealing with smaller stations. They thank you for adding dollars to the bottom line.

    We have done this to ourselves, and we continue to be co-dependent by depending on bartered programming and services. We continue to be in denial.

    The next big loss will what is left of co-op dollars. Syndication suppliers can now drop a local address & phone in a spot. Done.

    So yes we will need to work harder, smarter, and make sure our clients get results in our markets.

  2. Amen!

    Too many of the radio (and TV) ads we hear are just plain embarrassing on their utter lack of Creative, credibility or relevance. Some of these spots — think, for example, ‘stars’ or ‘fruits and veggies — are outright fraudulent.

    So, yes, ratings aside, the quality of broadcast ads needs a huge improvement.

  3. THANK YOU, I’ve been preaching for years that “ratings” are for the weak and poor preforming stations. Management needs to focus on content… and sales training/encouragement.

    Great article!!


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