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Nielsen Adds Prompting to ‘A/P Meters’

To accommodate digital technology, which renders the notion of a TV channel obsolete, Nielsen Media Research is implementing time-based prompting for its new “Active/Passive Meters,” officials said Thursday.

Currently, the “People Meter” used with the A/P Meter only prompts its sample panel members when a channel is changed on a TV set. But in the digital world -- with its options, such as video-on-demand and time-shifting with digital-video recorders -- the concept of a linear TV “channel” is becoming outdated.

To deal with that sea change, the People Meter used with the A/P Meter will now prompt respondents to push a button indicating their presence in the room, watching what’s on the screen, based on a 42-minute time interval, and not based on the changing of a channel.

The first A/P Meters using the time-based prompt will be installed in the national and “Local People Meter” samples in the last half of July. The newly installed A/P homes will be rolled into samples as they are installed.

Nielsen earlier this year tested two intervals in test panels -- a 21-minute prompt and a 42-minute prompt -- and presented the results to clients. There was also additional research done, including a qualitative survey and an in-depth data analysis.

In deciding to go with the 42-minute interval, Nielsen worked closely with a small steering committee that included clients and the Media Rating Council.