So far Nielsen has had little substantiative to say about Voltair other than it is studying the device.
There’s one thing Nielsen could announce that would pretty much end Voltair.
Nielsen could publically declare that PPM is as accurate as it originally claimed to broadcasters, and that Voltair offers no benefit.
Imagine this press release from Nielsen:
Nielsen Audio’s PPM captures and reports 99.9% of all encoded radio listening to which panelists are exposed. The technology works equally well with all radio formats, all programming material, and is immune to environmental interference.
Voltair’s critics would be correct claiming that all this talk about boosting ratings is just hype, a classic example of confirmatory bias.
But don’t expect Nielsen to issue this press release.
All the evidence points to just the opposite: PPM does not capture listening to all formats and program material equally, and that ambient noise can make identifying a radio station much more difficult.
And ponder what it means if Nielsen cannot claim that PPM captures 99.9% of all encoded radio listening under all circumstances.
It means that radio listening is being under-reported by PPM.
The real story that is getting lost in all the hand-wringing over whether Voltair is fair is the implication if Voltair actually works.
If Voltair really does boost ratings, then PPM without Voltair is not capturing all radio listening.
Then we have to ask ourselves what percentage of radio listening is not being reported by PPM. Is it 10%? Is it 30%? Is it more?
Is it OK if PPM misses 10%, but not OK if PPM misses 15%? How much potential listening are you willing to lose?
Spot radio is a $14 billion business where cost-per-point matters. If actual radio listening is higher than Nielsen reports, then radio may be losing billions in potential revenue.
Some claim Voltair is unfair. Is it more fair for radio to give up potentially billions of dollars because of a flawed measurement technology?