By: Glenda Shrader Bos - Managing Partner at harker|bos group
"Most people, in fact, will not take the trouble in finding out the truth, but are much more inclined to accept the first story they hear." Thucydides
By now the industry has seen or heard Nielsen's secret client webinar that essentially invited everyone including the RAB and NAB – but excluded consultants and the press.
On Tuesday we heard Nielsen's first on-the-record comments regarding Voltair...
Here are a few paraphrased highlights followed with our opinion in parentheses:
- Nielsen stated that they "non-supportive" of Voltair (We are not telling you to legally remove the box because you might sue us – just trust us.)
- Nielsen says Voltair increases gain and extends codes.
- Nielsen says Voltair increases crackles and pops and can impact quality for listeners.
- Nielsen stands behind the accuracy of their ratings.
- Nielsen has no way of knowing if Voltair increases AQH ratings.
- Nielsen says that Voltair interferes with the encoding process by altering Nielsen's watermarks and making them audible. (In some engineering circles, there has been a conversation that the reason PPM in its current form does not work is because the codes are not audible. And there has been further conjecture that the 20 year old technology will not work properly, period.)
- Nielsen says the new CBET coding rolling out by fourth quarter will increase gain and solve problems experienced by some formats… (which is exactly what Voltair does now).
Wait a minute... we are not lawyers, but it sure sounded like there are problems with the current system.
Every station who has a Voltair box knows there are problems with PPM - not a surprise. But the admission is interesting.
So the "first" story from Nielsen is that Voltair extends codes and gain – making them audible, but Nielsen is now going to increase the codes and gain, but keep the code inaudible. We need to "trust" that this will happen.
We applaud Nielsen for telling us more than the old Arbitron Webinars; however according to our clients who watched the webinar, they saw a presentation that left them with more questions than answers.
The industry needs to demand an open audit with all the data available for clients to read and question. Since the discovery of codes, audibility and detection of these codes is the business that keeps everyone employed, Nielsen needs to do much more than promise it will be better in the 4th quarter.
Secrecy up to this point has potentially lost the industry billions of dollars. It is time to insist that Nielsen agree to an audit open to all broadcasters.