Nielsen fixes April digital ratings after reporting error: Daily Mail back above Guardian

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 30 May 2017

Nielsen has under-reported smartphone and tablet data for some of the websites it tracked in April shifting the position of The Daily Mail and The Guardian and changes for a number of other publishers.

Today, the measurement company restated its monthly digital ratings figures for the month, which sees Daily Mail reinstated to fifth overall, above The Guardian. The incorrect numbers had shown The Guardian overtaking. AdNews understands Daily Mail drew Nielsen's attention to the error.

The incorrect numbers showed The Daily Mail taking a 16% hit in digital ratings to an audience of 2.7 million - the true numbers show an 8% dip and an audience of 2.9 million. 

The Guardian had been attributed growth of 0.4% but the amended numbers actually show 3% growth and an audience of 2.9 million. 

Peter Holder, Daily Mail MD tells AdNews: "Last week’s result was a bit like getting a phone bill and knowing you’re being slugged for calls you didn’t make. It just didn’t make sense but if you say nothing, nothing will be done and you’ve only got yourself to blame.

“We simply said to Nielsen – a few times admittedly - that our data and other methodologies were showing a single digit percentage drop that was seasonally consistent: April always being affected by school holidays, Easter and Anzac Day; coupled with the fact it was a relatively quiet month for big news stories. We’re delighted Nielsen listened to our reasoning and responded in the way in which it did.”

While the amended numebrs don't change any other positions within the top 10, many had been shown as in decline, which Nielsen attributed to Easter, ANZAC Day and school holidays. It transpires they were in growth.

The ABC saw a change in the reported audience for its news websites. It had been shown as a 5% decline to 4.6 million, but is in fact up 1% to an audience of 4.9 million.

The amended numbers also change Nine's figures from a 3% decline to 3% growth and an audience of 4.7 million.

Yahoo! News pages were corrected to show 19% growth to an audience of 2.8 million from the incorrectly stated +12%, the SMH, which had been shown as down 15% was in fact just 2% down with an audience of 2.5 million, Daily Telegraph was corrected from -11% to a decline of 5% and an audience of 2.4 million.

Nielsen said the re-statement is due to a data production issue that resulted in smartphone and tablet data for some websites being under-reported with less than 10% of websites under-reported by more than 10%. 

It has now put in place additional automated and manual checks to proactively identify and correct any issues in the future.

“Nielsen found smartphone and tablet audiences were under-reported for entities containing URLs which were first observed in the data during a 10-day period from April 20 to April 30,” Nielsen executive director of media Monique Perry said.

“The average unique audience impact to all 3,285 reported brands was approximately 3%. Of this, 287 brands were impacted by more than 10%.”

With the inclusion of new URLs, all impacted brands saw an increase in unique audience compared to the April 2017 data released last week.

Nielsen said sites with static URLs were not affected, mobile app numbers were not impacted and all other URLs were accurately reported across desktop.

Last year, Nielsen revealed it had misreported 18 months of YouTube ratings.

Nielsen digital monthly rankings April - update

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