Nielsen Audio

Radio – Streaming – Podcast – Measurement

Audio is everywhere these days. It’s available on multiple platforms and devices, and it engages millions of listeners. In fact, radio alone reaches almost 270 million American listeners each week. That’s why Nielsen measures audio and makes it easier for advertisers to effectively value the medium and help determine its rightful place in the media planning mix. With Nielsen’s gold standard of audio measurement, advertisers can reach engaged local and national audiences—successfully using the science of measurement to connect with impassioned consumers to drive business success.

As with all Nielsen research, we are independent and scientific in our approach to radio measurement. Audio plays a large role in people’s media day. Evaluated through the same Nielsen lens as other media using directly comparable metrics, radio reaches more people of every generation than nearly any other content, according to our Nielsen Total Audience report. This report highlights how radio reaches more than 90% of the U.S. population each week.

Why Audio?

Nielsen measures audio campaign performance to evaluate the impact on business outcomes. From retail to recreation, custom proprietary studies designed to measure your key performance indicators illustrate how each radio campaign changes opinions and influences the actual behavior of people who heard the campaign. Combined with our television and digital measurement capabilities, Nielsen will show you how audio specifically—and uniquely—affects your overall campaigns.

Nielsen measures 80% of all U.S. credit card purchases. By combining this data with audio listener data, we can determine each campaign’s return on investment.

For each dollar spent in radio campaigns, advertisers in these categories received incremental
sales ranging from $9.48 to $23.21

Retailers realized $23.21 in incremental sales for each dollar spent on their radio campaign’s measured by Nielsen.

Cross Device

Nielsen’s audio measurement capabilities also shed light on radio’s ability to drive consumption of other media. For example, we can determine how radio ads drive television tune-in behavior.

Radio Advertising

On average 27% of people who heard the ad tuned to the program. However, 53% of people who heard the ad within 90 minutes of game time tuned to the program.

The Science of Measurement

With expansive proprietary panels, we measure how radio reinforces the entire advertising campaign.

The science of our measurement is through relentless commitment to excellence in evaluation of the aggregated and anonymized behavior of real people in every local market as well as nationally. We employ the best-in-class survey techniques to recruit and maintain ongoing representative participation from every segment of the population, including the hardest-to-reach demographics. Nielsen Audio measurement is sound, consistent and reliable.

Radio amplifies other advertising

When analyzing a radio ad campaign for an automotive dealership, Nielsen found that consumers who were exposed to ads on the radio had a 35% higher awareness of the TV ad than those who only saw it on TV.

Radio Advertising

How We Do It


These audio measurement meters are used in 48 of the largest markets in the U.S. PPM panelists carry their meters throughout the day, and the meters record the audio they listen to. Nielsen uses the data to produce local ratings reports for each market, which it delivers monthly. The data is based on the average four weeks of survey results.


Nielsen uses paper listening logs in more than 225 large and small markets. Diary panelists record their listening in one-week increments. This tried-and-true measurement technique remains the gold standard for hundreds of U.S. radio markets. Nielsen uses the diaries to produce local ratings reports, which it delivers quarterly or biannually, depending on the market. The data is based on the average of 12 weeks of survey results.


Nielsen Digital Audio measurement leverages census-based data collection, demographic information from leading third-party data providers and Nielsen’s high-quality measurement panels. The result is seamless audio measurement that provides an integrated view of the audience, regardless of platform. Measurement happens within a user’s app or player during consumption.


Nielsen follows on-demand and linear audio. Nielsen Scarborough provides detailed demographic and qualitative profiles of podcast listeners, and advertisers can connect with the fans of top celebrity podcast authors via Nielsen N-Score and Fanlinks. Nielsen is also incorporating its streaming measurement technology to track actual podcast consumption rather than just downloads.


The RADAR service aggregates data from station-provided affidavits detailing when commercials air with actual radio listening data from all PPM and diary markets in the U.S. to identify the actual audience that hears specific advertisements.


Nielsen’s nationwide service combines all PPM and diary markets and allows for on-the-fly custom combinations of radio stations to evaluate campaign delivery across two or more local markets.

Interested in learning more?