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Audience measurement measure how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership, but also newspaper and magazine readership, and increasingly, usage of websites, to help broadcasters and advertisers determine who is listening, rather than just how many. This broader meaning is called audience research.
The diary was the first and until recently the only method of recording information. However, this is prone to mistakes and forgetfulness, as well as subjectivity. Data is also collected down to the level of listener opinion of individual songs, cross referenced against their age, race, and economic status in listening sessions sponsored by oldies and mix formatted stations.
More recently, technology has been used to track listening and viewing habits. Arbitron's Portable People Meter uses a microphone to pick up and record subaudible tones embedded in broadcasts by an encoder at each station or network. It has even been used to track in-store radio.
There are certain software applications being developed to monitor cable TV operators with full passive and permissive viewer measurement functionality to monitor television channel ratings. The system tracks every time the channel is changed and records it accordingly. It allows what was being viewed at the time and which channel the viewer changed to. This information allows operators, broadcasters and advertising media to monitor audience TV usage habits.
Nielsen//NetRatings measures Internet and digital media audiences through a telephone and Internet survey. Nielsen BuzzMetrics measures consumer-generated media. Other companies collecting information on internet usage include comScore and Hitwise, who measure hits on internet pages. Companies like Visible Measures focus on measuring specific types of media, in the case of Visible Measures, they measure online video consumption and distribution across all video advertising and content. TruMedia, Quividi, and CognoVision provide real-time audience data including size, attention span and demographics by using video analytics technology to automatically detect, track and classify viewers watching digital displays. Networked Insights measures online audiences, and released a report ranking television shows based on people's interactions within social media. The study showed that half of the shows on Networked Insights' top 10 list did not appear on the Nielsen list.
Ratings point is a measure of viewership of a particular television program.
One single television ratings point (Rtg or TVR) represents 1% of viewers in the surveyed area in a given minute. As of 2004, there are an estimated 109.6 million television households in the United States. Thus, a single national household ratings point represents 1%, or 1,096,000 households for the 2004-05 season. When used for the broadcast of a program, the average rating across the duration of the show is typically given. Ratings points are often used for specific demographics rather than just households. For example a ratings point among the key 18-49 year olds demographic is equivalent to 1% of all 18-49 year olds in the country.
A Rtg / TVR is different from a share point in that it is the percentage of all possible viewers, while a share point is 1% of all viewers watching television at the time. Hence the share of a broadcast is often significantly higher than the rating, especially at times when overall TV viewing is low.
GRPs / TRPs
Gross rating points (GRPs) or Target Rating Points (TRPs) are chiefly used to measure the performance of TV-based advertising campaigns, and are the sum of the TVRs of each commercial spot within the campaign. An ad campaign might require a certain number of GRPs among a particular demographic across the duration of the campaign. The GRP of a campaign is equal to the percentage of people who saw any of the spots, multiplied by the average number of spots that these viewers saw. Targeted Rating Points are a refinement of GRP's to express the reach time frequency of only the most likely prospects. For example, if a campaign buys 150 GRPs for a television spot, but only half of that audience is actually in the market for the campaign's product, then the TRP would be stated as 75 to calculate the net effective buy .
Diary-based radio ratings in the U.S. may inflate listenership, because it is only measured in 15-minute increments. Listening at any time during a quarter-hour counts as listening for the entire duration, even if the actual time was just for a song or two.
The process of surveying listeners for their preferences has also been criticised for its lack of flexibility. Listeners complain that modern radio lacks variety and depth but the measurement methods only facilitate further refinement of already minutely programmed formats rather than the overhaul that many listeners are asking for. Radio, particularly in the United States, is where listeners hear their old favorites rather than are exposed to new music. Data obtained by some audience measurement methods is detailed to individual songs and how they are reacted to by each age, racial, and economic group the station is seeking to attract. This statistical approach leads to highly recognizable songs (such as those from the Beatles) which score well with a cross section of listeners. 
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- TNS currently measures TV, Radio and Internet audiences in over 40 countries.
- AGB Nielsen Media Research currently measures TV Audiences in 27 countries globally using people meter technology in more than 58,000 homes.
- In Australia, television ratings are collected by three main organizations. OzTAM serves metropolitan areas, Regional TAM serves regional areas serviced by three commercial networks, and Nielsen Media Research Australia handles for regional areas serviced by two commercial networks. Ratings are collected over 40 weeks of the year, with a two-week break over Easter and 10 weeks over summer.
- In Argentina, radio and television measurement is done by Ibope and Infortecnica.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mareco Index Bosnia is the provider of TAM ratings (TV Meters). This company also provides Radio & Print Measurement data (Diary).
- In Brazil, IBOPE provides measurement services for TV.
- The provider of Bulgarian TAM ratings is Taylor Nelson Sofres TV PLAN; this company uses TV meters.
- In Canada, Nielsen Media Research measures TV, and CognoVision Solutions Inc. provides measurement services for Digital Signage.
- Finnpanel measures both radio and TV in Finland.
- In Denmark, radio measurement is handled by TNS Gallup
- In France, radio and television measurement is handled by Médiamétrie
- In India, television ratings are collected by two main organizations - TAM India and Audience Measurement Analytics Limited (aMap). aMap entered the market in 2005, with more coverage and latest technology from Telecontrol-Switzerland. aMap polls the meters (6000 households) using GSM network and provides ratings overnight. TAM India collects data manually (physical visits) and releases data weekly. aMap also has a stand-alone digital panel (aMapDigital) to measure TV viewing and Interactive engagement in DTH homes.
- In Japan Video Research handles radio and television measurement.
- In Kazakhstan, TV measurement is handled by TNS
- In the Philippines, TNS Philippines monitors the ratings of ABS-CBN & GMA.
- In Pakistan TV audience measurement is done by Gallup BRB.
- In Slovakia TV audience measurement is done by TNS.
- In the UK, television measurement is handled by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board via a metered panel and radio by RAJAR, using a diary system. The NRS (National Readership Survey) measures newspaper and magazine readership.
- In the United States, TV measurement is done by Nielsen Media Research, radio by Arbitron and digital signage by TruMedia.
- In Spain, digital signage audience measurement is done by aiTech. radio and television measurement is done by Infortecnica.
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