iHeartMedia is throwing its weight behind a pair of big Nielsen Audio initiatives. Nielsen announced today that the radio and streaming giant will support Nielsen Media Impact, its cross-platform media planning tool, and Continuous Diary Measurement (CDM) in Nielsen’s four book radio markets. The agreement helps advance radio attribution and paves the way for Nielsen to roll out CDM after some clients balked at having to pay extra for the service upgrade.

For Nielsen Media Impact, iHeart’s support boosts Nielsen’s momentum for the tool, which is now also being used by Univision, Entercom, Westwood One and Sun Broadcast Group.

Getting iHeart on board the CDM train enables Nielsen to press ahead with its original plans, starting with the July 2019 survey in the 46 diary markets that are currently measured four times a year. The survey period covers April 25 to July 17 and the reports will be delivered between Aug. 14 and Aug. 23.

In the announcement, Brad Kelly, Managing Director, Nielsen Audio, said the measurement company is “thrilled to be collaborating” with iHeart on both initiatives. “Billion dollar advertisers are telling us with absolute clarity that fresh data and cross-platform media analytics are of paramount importance,” he said. “These are critical inputs which fuel the marketing mix models – the same models that guide vast marketing and ad spend budgets.”

Insisting that the radio industry must keep pace with a fast evolving advertising ecosystem, Kelly added that both initiatives “will allow both buyers and sellers of radio to better evaluate, react and adapt to marketplace changes.” Kelly expressed confidence that radio’s adoption of the tools “will help level the playing field and bring radio’s attribution metrics on par with other media.”

CDM is seen as a way to make diary ratings currency more current in diary markets so advertisers can react more rapidly to market changes for more impactful schedules. In addition, reporting periods for radio will be better aligned with those of TV and digital, which is better suited for marketing mix modeling, the complex tools marketers use to allocate their media spend.

“Marketing mix models need fresh data to get a full understanding of how radio drives sales results and Continuous Diary Measurement enables better attribution with more current data in the larger diary markets,” said Greg Ashlock, President, iHeartMedia Markets Group. “We also look forward to using Nielsen Media Impact to show clients how iHeartMedia substantially improves advertising results in optimized cross media campaigns.”

Under CDM, the 46 diary markets that are currently measured four times a year will get 12 currency-grade ratings reports a year. Nielsen will accomplish this by allocating its existing diary sample across 12 months. Adding in the 48 PPM markets means that a total of 94 metros will have monthly reporting, or about 80% of radio’s ad spend and population in radio markets measured by Nielsen.

The transition to CDM had been threatened following a heated exchange at an April meeting of the NAB’s Committee on Local Radio Audience Measurement (COLRAM), where a discussion of the price tag for continuous measurement in diary markets boiled over. Nielsen’s customers complained that the ratings giant is seeking rate hikes for the upgrade to monthly ratings and that the additional fee wasn’t communicated to them until late in the game.

While Nielsen is moving forward with CDM in 46 markets, it has pressed pause on plans to introduce CDM in markets currently measured twice a year (spring and fall) while it continues to work with clients “to determine the best path forward to evolve radio measurement and establish attribution metrics in the small and mid-size markets.”