Paragon Applauds Nielsen, But Calls For Voltair Field Tests
July 21, 2015 at 4:51 PM (PT)
The fallout from NIELSEN's webinar earlier today -- where the ratings service refused to support VOLTAIR, but instead promised PPM improvements -- continues, as PARAGON RESEARCH praised NIELSON for "identifying VOLTAIR's true impact," but suggested that it undertake field tests with participating stations to verify VOLTAIR's true impact.
"Through its lab tests, NIELSEN acknowledged that there is some listening that VOLTAIR picks up that the current PPM encoding system does not," LARRY JOHNSON wrote in PARAGON's blog. "This 'listening' is to low decibel (db) level signals 'heard' in environments where the background noise is equal to or louder than the signal. NIELSEN’s experiments using trained and untrained listeners make the case that some of the 'listening' picked up by the VOLTAIR system is truly unintelligible. By extending and amplifying the PPM watermark by which stations are identified, NIELSEN contends that -- in certain cases -- VOLTAIR may be crossing the line in picking up listening that isn’t really listening. Also NIELSEN also contends that by picking up such 'listening,' the ratings are subject to undue volatility/variability.
"So NIELSEN adamantly does not endorse VOLTAIR; however, the new NIELSEN PPM CBET coding enhancement acknowledges and incorporates some of the valid listening that the VOLTAIR systems enhanced and amplified."
But unanswered questions remain. Chief among them: To what extent does VOLTAIR use impact a station's ratings? And the best way to answer that is through field tests. "So bravo for NIELSEN making significant strides in identifying VOLTAIR’s true impact through NIELSEN’s lab tests and making improvements in the PPM encoding to assure the most accurate radio measurement, possibly beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. Nonetheless with the high stakes, there’s nothing standing in the way of U.S. stations going back to the steroid cabinet to eke out that last burst of ratings spike that VOLTAIR provides. As long as there as there’s a perceived advantage in using VOLTAIR and no threat of ratings distortion punishment, U.S. operators will continue to romp on an unlevel playing field.
"Ultimately, only a quantifiable study of known stations with VOLTAIR in use will prove or disprove its validity," JOHNSON concluded. "Lab tests are good. Real world tests are better. While today was a decent start, PARAGON encourages NIELSEN to provide amnesty to all stations who are willing to pull back the sheets and allow for a verifiable study of VOLTAIR’s impact. Anything less will keep the guessing game in play, and undermine the reliability of radio ratings."
To read the entire blog, please click here.