NEWS14 September 2021

Nielsen CEO sets out audience measurement response

Media News North America Trends

US – Nielsen’s chief executive, David Kenny, has defended the company’s audience measurement services in an open letter in the wake of the recent suspension of the firm’s industry accreditation.

David kenny nielsen_crop

The open letter sets out some of the changes Nielsen has underway to improve its measurement processes, but accepts that the company has not been “perfect” in how it adapted its measurement to the pandemic, such as how it explained how health and safety-related measures led to a reduction in panel sizes.

The letter follows the board of the Media Rating Council’s (MRC’s) vote earlier this month to suspend Nielsen’s industry accreditation for its national TV ratings service, following Nielsen’s recent request for a hiatus from the accreditation process for its national TV ratings.

The need to return to target levels of panel size and maintenance was an issue flagged by the MRC, according to Nielsen.

The MRC has also removed the accreditation hiatus that had been in place for Nielsen’s local TV ratings services, and suspended accreditation for these markets.

The industry association said in a statement at the time that suspensions may be imposed when a service “has been documented to have material standards non-compliance or operational issues that are deemed to have exerted an adverse effect on the service”.

Nielsen had previously said the pandemic had hindered panel maintenance and recruitment of new panellists. The company has a target to install 41,600 new households by the first quarter of 2022.

Nielsen One, which will unify Nielsen’s audience measurement products, will also be launched in the final quarter of 2022, as part of a plan to fully transition the industry to cross-media metrics by autumn 2024.

In the open letter, Kenny (pictured) writes: “A healthy media industry requires measurement integrity – reliable, accurate, unbiased and inclusive media measurement that works for everyone, and measures everybody, everywhere.

“That’s why we’re transforming and improving the services we provide, to ensure we’re better leveraging the best of science, tech, data and human insight. And we will work directly with the industry to ensure we’re delivering the most accurate measurement of the audience.”

The letter states that the company believes effective measurement systems should ensure inclusion and representation, allow true comparability across all platforms and audiences and deliver wholly unbiased results.

Using the latest data science innovations, and evolving and auditing measurement standards are also needed in an effective measurement system.

“We’re hard at work returning our panels back to full strength, while at the same time continuing to build for the future with our upcoming Nielsen One capabilities,” according to the open letter.

“This change will help us better deliver on true measurement integrity, which will benefit the entire industry and, ultimately, the audience we all serve.

“We look forward to sharing these developments on an accelerated timeline.”