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Whiting: Nielsen Advancing in New Tech

Nielsen Media Research CEO Susan Whiting says her company is moving quickly to measure new technologies and respond to clients’ concerns. In the last year, Whiting told clients gathered for a meeting in Florida, Nielsen has rolled out several new initiatives, including three streams of national ratings with DVR viewing; increased the number of membership representatives; oversampled younger Hispanic and African-American households; and produced minute-by-minute ratings.

“Almost a year ago to the day, Nielsen Media Research was confronted with a number of issues – growing concern about the speed of technology change and NMR’s response, growing concern about delivery of minute-by-minute data, growing concern about pressure to maintain sample quality in local markets, and concern about the ability to handle a complex set of overlapping client requirements,” Whiting said.

She said her company moved swiftly to address these concerns and will continue to do so.  

“Going forward, we wanted to bring our clients more closely into the 'priority-setting' process,” Whiting added.

New initiatives that Nielsen clients are eagerly awaiting include measurement of video-on-demand, out-of-home ratings and inclusion of college students' viewing in ratings.

In the next two years, Whiting says, Nielsen will focus on improving its TV measurement and expand into new platforms. One effort will be integrating measurement of Internet and TV usage. Nielsen also wants to measure out-of-home and viewing on mobile devices, such as ipods and cellphones.

The timing is critical. About 30% of all media time is spent with more than one medium, Nielsen says, and four out of five TV viewers are using other media as they watch TV.  

Whiting said Nielsen is also striving to improve local ratings. The company will seek to add electronic measurement to existing set meters and convert large markets that still rely on paper diaries to electronic systems.

Regarding the possible sale of Nielsen’s parent company VNU to a group of private-equity firms, Whiting reiterated that shareholders must still accept the takeover. Also, she said, she has spoken to the partners, who “are committed to the investments that will continue to provide strong measurement."