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While a 15% lift in AQH persons would suggest that Nielsen’s existing PPM encoders have been under-counting audiences, managing director of local media USA Matt O’Grady doesn’t see it that way. “PPM was designed for certain standards of listening with certain background noise and an acceptable level of transmission and recognition of those codes,” he told Inside Radio after the company’s Radio Show presentation. The encoding update Nielsen just finished testing improves their detection for today’s more challenging acoustic environments.

Stations involved in field tests of the enhanced encoders included both those using the Voltair audio processor and those that weren’t. O’Grady declined to comment on specific results of Voltair-equipped stations compared to those without it, other than to say they were “very similar.” The company plans to do more testing of its new Critical Band Encoding Technology (CBET) “and we’ll have more to say on it,” O’Grady said.

Nielsen’s position on Voltair remains unchanged, O’Grady said, qualifying that it “doesn’t endorse the use of Voltair to impact our numbers.” O’Grady said Nielsen has no plans at this point to require stations to stop using the audio processor. “We believe that our solution will not make it necessary to use that,” he said. “Our watermark and our CBET are ours to maintain and support and to distribute to clients equally. When a market switches, they all get it on the same day at the same time so it is a level playing field.” The company said it plans to share the new CBET rollout schedule and hold a client webinar during the week of Oct. 5 to review test results.

Chief engineer Arun Ramaswamy told Radio Show attendees that the company worked closely with the Nielsen Audio Advisory Council’s technology subcommittee, which provided insights and feedback, and that it has shared results with the Media Rating Council throughout the process.