Today’s blog post is focused on one thing: imploring Nielsen to make one of the biggest events in radio history available to the entire industry.
And to make my case, I’m going to use the words of the brilliant, witty, and sarcastic French philosopher, Voltaire. In an odd way, he’s the twisted namesake of this mysterious technology. Over the past few months, one of the odder outcomes from this PPM encoding dilemma and the 25-Seven black box is that it has made me more familiar with Voltaire, his writing and his witticisms. And as it turns out, his observations about people, life, and even business are spot-on in better understanding this crazy turn of events for radio.
As of now, the only legal attendees are to be Nielsen clients, the only ones with bona fide access to its webinar about PPM and where the industry goes from here. Except that one way or another, the industry trades, pundits, bloggers, and other interested parties will find a way to gain access.
That’s because Nielsen subscribers really don’t care that they’re the only ones invited. They simply want to know what the hell is going on.
And because all the people being kept out of the webinar will probably be in attendance anyway, the breaking news alerts should start within a few minutes after the proceedings begin.
Like so many other parts of this bizarre radio chapter, this lack of transparency continues to permeate the entire issue. Nielsen’s ruling on PPM, the Voltair technology, and its steps to rectify whatever limitations it has discovered about its encoding impact all of us.
Yes, that includes Richard Harker, Jerry Del Colliano, Joel Denver, Mark Ramsey, Eric Rhoads, Tom Taylor, Charlie Sislen, Paul McLane, the RAMP dudes, the NAB, the RAB, and yes, your friends at Jacobs Media. We’re all in this together, and while we may strongly disagree about many of these issues swarming around PPM and Voltair, we are very much invested in these outcomes, too.
It is understandable that Nielsen is limiting access to the webinar to its stakeholders. Under normal circumstances, this makes sense. But there's nothing the least bit normal about the efficacy of radio's primary measurement source being questioned by a technology company, and hundreds of Nielsen's own clients.
The fact is, we're all “stakeholders” in this drama. Consultants, researchers, and analysts live and die with the ratings, too. We have a stake in this matter, whether we're in a position to advise Nielsen clients or we dutifully report on the results every week in industry trades.
For too long, the rumors, innuendo, exaggerations and speculation have done more harm than good. Nielsen’s silence has only served to fuel the engine that generates misinformation, panic, and poor decision-making on the part of broadcasters and the agencies and sellers that do business with radio. Everyone should have access to this webinar where important questions will be addressed, hopefully, along with answers and solutions.
There’s been much speculation about Voltair, along with opinion, hypothesizing, and outright lies. And that’s what happens when situations like these are allowed to spin out of control in back rooms. This is Nielsen’s opportunity to close the door on this chapter, but also leave nothing open to further misinformation from those who find out the news second-hand.
If there was ever a situation in radio that was analogous to a major Supreme Court decision, it’s this one. We’re all impacted by it, whether we’re in sales, programming, management, ownership, marketing, research, or consulting.
If Nielsen is truly interested in ending this stream of vitriol, guesswork, and conjecture, giving everyone an opportunity to learn the truth – in real time – is essential to managing this situation, understanding the problem, absorbing the solutions, and moving on.
Some believe that Nielsen’s lack of transparency has exacerbated the situation. That’s why turning the page on Voltair, beginning a new era that is focused on ratings that have the highest possible degree of both accuracy and credibility starts with opening up the books for everyone to see.
We are on the precipice of gaining measurement tools that can help radio level the playing field against the onslaught of digital competitors. The SDK project and other Nielsen initiatives hold great promise for radio to come out of this desert and compete more effectively over the next several years.
But it starts with righting the PPM ship and ensuring that radio’s ratings currency is stable, sound, and the best it can be.
We’re in this together.
So Nielsen, do the right thing.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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