That’s the title of a well written investigative story at ESPN’s FiveThirtyEightLife. Written by Carl Bialik, it examines the impact of PPM on radio.
It is to date the most thorough story on the growing questions surrounding PPM’s ability to accurately identify radio listening and fully credit radio stations.
It is a piece well worth reading and rereading.
One quote caught our attention become of something that happened a few weeks ago.
Jon Miller, Nielsen's VP of Audience Insights, standing before a room of Talk Radio broadcasters flatly declared that PPM accurately measures Talk Radio listening. (See the video here. Skip to 35:28 to hear my exchange with Jon Miller.)
We're still trying to figure out what Voltair is doing but we've been confident from day one that our system does give the proper amount of credit.
How do we square his confident assurances with an Arbitron engineer quote in the story:
We had concern about various types of formats. It was thought that classical and some talk formats would be challenging to encode and possibly decode reliably.
So inside Arbitron engineers knew that some formats would not encode and decode equally, a point that we have been writing about for seven years.
Nielsen’s official communique on Voltair was promised before the end of June.
We hope it will include a response addressing the Arbitron engineer's confession that some formats are "challenging" for PPM to accurately credit.