Will This Nielsen Change Lead to More Listening?


Nielsen announced that the hardware stations use to encode their signals, which sits in a station’s equipment rack, will now be available in equipment stations typically purchase from vendors.

The equipment adds Nielsen’s inaudible PPM code to the station’s signal. Right now, any station, whether they subscribe or not, can ask for the free hardware. The idea being the more encoders out there the better it is for the radio industry because more listening will be picked up.

Marc Greenspan from The Research Director Inc. tells Radio Ink, If this change enables more signals to be encoded that’s a good thing for the industry.”

The Audio Software Encoder for FM stations will be available through include Orban, Omnia, and Wheatstone. Nielsen says it developed the Audio Software Encoder to provide more flexibility for encoding options. “This enhancement will enable clients to encode for PPM using certified equipment from third party vendors. This can save rack space for the station and simplify the process for station engineers.”

Nielsen says it successfully completed a field evaluation of the Audio Software Encoder for FM stations during the March and April Measurement periods. Earlier in 2020, Nielsen released the Audio Software Encoder for AM stations.  The new release enables PPM Software encoding for FM stations. Nielsen plans to release another version of the PPM Audio Software Encoder for digital streams later in 2021.


  1. I’m hearing iHeart stations are encoding podcasts with their PPM data. Did the Arbitron/Nielsen units come to the stations pre-programmed or did the engineers have to do it.

    The PPM rules allow for a 24 hour time-shift for programming, but last I checked, it had to be content that was on the air. If they’re actually encoding PPM data in non-aired podcasts, it might explain why Nielsen’s able to say Radio listening is growing. Third-party vendors selling the encoding gear that sends the PPM data out and requires the station inputting it sounds like a prescription for massively misleading advertisers about listening.

  2. Would you please quit calling eCBET PPM tones “inaudible” They stick out like a sore thumb! It makes everything sound like it’s reverberating sheet metal, or echoing out of a big metal trash can! It adds all sorts of metallic scraping, rattling and clanging noises to the audio!!

    10 annoyingly phase modulated tones between 1-3kHz are hard to hide!!

    • Maybe I’m alone in my opinion, but they should shut the PPM system down. I can’t bear to go into one of the 52PPM markets and turn on the radio. The whole dial sounds like eCBET to my ears. Fingernails on a chalkboard.

      CBET/eCBET was a theory taken straight to market without any listening tests being formally conducted on it. It was just forced on the stations in those markets. If you wanted ratings, you had to have it. Bad business policy!


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