Introducing PPM Wearables: An Enhancement in Measurement from Nielsen

Posted on June 10th, 2022 by Vaughn Ericson

Nielsen recently announced another improvement in its ability to collect local broadcast viewing and listening data. The rollout of PPM Wearables will certainly add an additional layer of accurate measurement to its toolbox of data collection methods. As Nielsen looks to increase sample size and accuracy while reducing its reliance on often unreliable or inaccurate diaries, it hopes to grow advertisers and agencies’ confidence in its ability to accurately measure exposure across platforms.

For years, advertisers and agencies have relied almost exclusively on Nielsen data to analyze and forecast national and local viewing ratings. Nielsen’s audience measurement began with diaries – actively filled out by panelists across the country – to collect reported viewing data.  In 1986, Nielsen developed the People Meter to electronically and passively – and more accurately – collect exposure to TV and radio broadcasts. The People Meter revolutionized the television industry – suddenly “overnight ratings” were available, allowing advertisers a glimpse of viewership almost in real-time versus weeks or months later. Then in 2007, Nielsen announced new Portable People Meters (PPMs) intended to further improve accuracy in measurement at the individual person level.

PPMs operate with encoding that picks up the electronic signals of stations within earshot (what the individual participant is likely listening to or viewing) making it a more reliable source. Interestingly, the introduction of PPMs resulted in a general decline in reported viewing/listening likely due to greater accuracy. 

Now, Nielsen has enhanced the Portable People Meter – introducing PPM Wearables.

According to Nielsen, PPM Wearables are the next frontier of audience measurement and a key component of cross platform measurement. The rollout of the PPM Wearables began in late April/May in 47 radio metros and as of early June, approximately 6,500 PPM Wearables have been installed. By the end of 2022, Nielsen expects 50-75% wearables to be in the panel. 

PPM Wearables have a smaller, updated design that is more aligned with current wearable technology trends. They aren’t connected smart watches – they’re designed specifically for accurate reporting of viewing and listening data – but the new designs are easy to wear and carry, making them more appealing to challenging demographics. The PPM Wearable includes multiple carry options including a wristband, clip and pendant.  

What does all this mean? 

It means Nielsen is heading deeper into development technology that will help build a single panel with more cross platform measurement data. Nielsen’s competition (ispot, VideoAmp, Comscore, Google etc.) are also working to have the most accurate and efficient technology/methodology for audience measurement.  And all (Nielsen included) wanting to achieve MRC Accreditation so that advertisers and agencies trust the data. Advertisers and agencies like True Media are anxious to figure out which measurement system, or combination of systems, will rise to the top in quality and efficiency across platforms. In the meantime, PPM Wearables trendy look and ease of use should entice more panelists to participate, and ultimately result in more accuracy in reporting listenership/viewership for TV and radio. And perhaps other channels in the future.