The variability of audience measurement data and how to live with it


The paper reviews the concept of sampling error applied to various methods of sampling and television panels in particular.Approaches are described for calculating sampling errors in relation to: Programme/Commercial Break Ratings Commercial Impacts/Average Hours of Viewing Channel Reach Channel Share Schedule Reach and Frequency Changes Over Time An approach to the use of sampling error is suggested given that audience measurement figures have to be used in making decisions even when the results lie within statistical confidence limits. Panel analyses which can throw light on the contribution of sampling error are also discussed. An awareness of broad levels of sampling error are essential to users and should play a part in designing research and fixing sample sizes.

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