March 31, 2008

The Problem With Online Panels – Nielsen Online Gives Misleading Results

Finding No: 734

Nielsen Online gives misleading results because their sample doesn’t cover all Australians — an inexcusable error!

In an average week, Australians spend 21.8 hours watching TV while only 9.5 hours on the Internet, making TV easily Australians’ favourite way to be entertained by the media, the authoritative Roy Morgan Research Single Source survey based on a representative Australia-wide sample of 21,846 people aged 14 and over shows.

Nielsen Online survey is wrong when it claims that Australians spend more time on the Internet than they do in front of TV — in an average week 13.7 hours on the Internet versus 13.3 hours in front of the TV.  See The Australian Financial Review (March 31, 2008 — Page 53) and The Australian IT (March 19, 2008)

Analysis of Roy Morgan data by age shows all “age groups” spend more time in an average week watching TV (21.8 hours) than on the Internet (9.5 hours); even younger people, those aged 14-24 years, spend more time watching TV than on the Internet — 17.3 hours watching TV while 14.2 hours on the Internet.

Only “Heavy” Internet users (8+ times per week) aged 14-24 years (1.332 million people - 7.8% of all Australians aged 14 years and over) spend more time “Online” than they do watching TV — 22.8 hours online versus 15.5 hours watching TV.

Roy Morgan Single Source covers a representative cross-section of Australians aged 14 plus — including “Heavy” (8+ times per week), “Medium” (1-7 times per week) and “Light” Internet users (less than once per week) and those people who “Never” use the Internet.  When the Roy Morgan data is analysed by “how often” people use the Internet in a week, it can be seen that even “Heavy” Internet users spend more time viewing TV, as detailed in the following table.

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

Block Quote

“The Roy Morgan results highlight the importance of relying on survey data that is based on representative samples of the total Australian population.  This is crucial when large advertisers use research data to evaluate which media to use. Today these advertisers use data based on media research produced by companies such as Roy Morgan, ACNielsen and other research companies. The Internet is being used more often and by more people. However, to say the Internet is the Number One media for Australians (as reported in the AFR, Monday March 31, 2008) is just wrong!

 “When advertisers make their media investment decision, it is imperative they have reliable and robust data that accurately reflect media consumption usage of their target consumers. Roy Morgan Single Source is the only data that allows this analysis in Australia.

“It is clear that the Internet is becoming more and more a part of Australians’ lives, but TV is not a dead medium! Australians spend more than twice the amount of time watching TV than they do Online – in an average week 21.8 hours versus 9.5 hours.”

The above findings are from Roy Morgan Research Single Source which is based on an Australian-wide survey between January and December 2007 with 21,846 men and women aged 14 years and over.

For further information:

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research – Ph: +61 3 9224 5116

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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