As Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made famous, the same word said differently can create a significant change in attitude. Hearing this song the other day, made me think about comScore and Nielsen. How can these two companies provide similar data but gather this information in completely different ways? And what does this mean to media buyers and media planners?

I started out by researching both firms and how they collect data. For the purposes of this blog, I am focused only on the US markets.

Both Nielsen and comScore (now that they have merged with Rentrak) provide television ratings data. Nielsen still relies on paper diaries and a small segment (compared to the population) of paid set-top boxes. Even though the household number is low, Nielsen pays these “families” so they know who is in the house watching what programs at which times. ComScore collects information from millions of set-top boxes through paid services like DirecTV and Cox. There is a larger group to pull the data from, but there is less known about the persons living in each household.

It is important to note that Nielsen is the sole provider of radio listenership data through the use of Portable People Meters (PPM) and paper diaries.

So, why do some clients prefer one segment of data over the other? I suppose it comes down to personal choice. As far as BluHorn is concerned, that choice is yours. We are integrating our software with both! So ComScore says tomato and Nielsen says tomato. Just don’t call the whole thing off!