Nielsen is one of the reasons billions of dollars are spent on advertising every year. Nielsen is the way advertiser’s determine on which media to spend their money. The media market has changed since Nielsen was founded in 1923 by Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr., who invented an approach to measuring competitive sales results that made the concept of “market share” a practical management tool.
Today’s world of advertising is at historic spend levels, but they’re also facing one of the most difficult sea changes ever. In order to more accurately make decisions they need to know what they’ve historically been able to know — who’s watching what, when, and the relation to purchases of the products advertised during said watching. But with the way people view content, and consequently advertising, changing so drastically with multiple screens and time-shifting options, that information is getting harder to pin down.
Nielsen deals with Fragmentation and Reliability
The answer for many companies such as NBCUniversal is to develop proprietary in-house solutions, but that’s a very incomplete answer. If every company is using proprietary measuring methods, it’s impossible to compare apples to apples. That makes ad buyers nervous, and rightly so. Spending billions of dollars on decisions made using the equivalent of a blindfolded pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey session is dangerous stuff, financially speaking.
But the situation isn’t quite as dire as some would make it out to be because there is still a stronghold of reliability out there, even if they’re facing the same challenges. Nielsen is the founding father of media ratings, and they’ve been excelling at their job for almost a century now. It’s true that they’re going to have to adapt in order to retain their king of the hill status, but they’re in the best position to do so and they’re already turning the ship in the right direction.
It may seem that Nielsen’s day has come and gone, a relic of a past age. But with 93 years of experience at what they do combined with the changes they’re currently working on, it’s s safe bet that the newcomers to the game will have a tough time keeping up with them. In just the past few months Nielsen has announced several new initiatives, including national out of home reporting service that will track viewers in airports, bars, and other away-from-the-living-room viewers, with ESPN being the first (and most logical) client. They’ve received MRC accreditation for viewable GRP demos in digital ad ratings, allowing them to track viewers on PCs an mobile devices, and made changes to their Total Audience Measurement product partially in response to concerns from media companies.
Also notable is Nielsen’s dive into artificial intelligence, enabling marketers to instantly act on changes in audience behavior that improve marketing relevance and results through the Nielsen Marketing Cloud. This will give marketers the ability to optimize their audiences based on real-time streams coming from a client’s customer data, such as online purchases or visits to a website page or app. In short, they aren’t ready to give up the game to the competition yet.
Our take here at Media Jobs is that Nielsen is in a strong position to remain the leader in their field and push new boundaries, and might offer a great mix of a solid and well established company that is taking on the challenges of the future as well or better than the up and comers. Unless people stop watching television content or advertisers walk away from it — both of which are as unlikely today as people sprouting wings and flying to Mars.