Nielsen CEO Admits ‘We Haven’t Been Perfect’ Following Suspension of Ratings Accreditation

“We’re transforming and improving the services we provide,” David Kenny vows

Photo credit: Nielsen

Nielsen CEO David Kenny admitted Thursday in an open letter to the TV industry that the ratings currency company hasn’t “been perfect” following the company’s suspension of ratings accreditation.

Read Kenny’s full letter below.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE INDUSTRY FROM DAVID KENNY, CEO, NIELSEN

A  healthy media industry requires measurement integrity—reliable, accurate, unbiased and inclusive media measurement that works for everyone, and measures everybody, everywhere. Advertisers and marketers require independent, cross-platform, deduplicated measurement to build plans that drive outcomes and optimize for ROI. Comparability is key, as marketers navigate, strategize and execute across proliferating platforms. 

As a leader in measurement for decades and the currency of choice today, we understand this acutely. We also understand that we need to move faster in advancing our measurement because the audience itself is moving faster. 

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. 

In our view, an effective measurement system must do the following:

  • Ensure inclusion and representation. One of the reasons a robust panel is so critical is to ensure big data is validated and fully inclusive and representative of the country’s evolving demographics. Leveraging U.S. census data and probability sampling, our panels allow us to accurately represent the evolving face of America as big data alone is known to under-represent multicultural communities as well as misrepresent media behavior across all platforms. We are working to continuously improve our methodology by leveraging the latest metering technology so our sample keeps pace with the changing demography, all while ensuring and respecting privacy.  
  • Enable true comparability across all platforms and deduplicate audiences. The media ecosystem is becoming more fragmented and viewers are distributing their attention across more and more platforms. A single, de-duplicated cross-media metric will dramatically simplify measurement, significantly reduce media waste for advertisers and greatly benefit both consumers and the industry in the long-term. Nielsen’s July 2021 The Gauge report revealed that streaming accounted for 28% of viewers’ total time watching TV. In addition, we know over 40% of all homes in the U.S. rely on streaming or an Over-The-Air signal to view content. 
  • Utilize the most advanced data science. True measurement integrity requires pushing ourselves to embrace the latest technological capabilities, including big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, to build entirely new and forward-looking forms of measurement. We will build unprecedented measurement capabilities with transparent and explainable AI models built off validated data inputs. 
  • Deliver wholly unbiased results. For a thriving media ecosystem that works for all parties, the primary measurement cannot come from self-interested parties who are measuring themselves. History has shown that it doesn’t work. What does work is having a fully independent and unbiased organization audited against the above standards providing an objective accounting of the audience creating a level playing field for all parties across both the Buy and Sell sides of our industry. 
  • Evolve and audit measurement standards. We believe in the establishment of and adherence to rigorous measurement standards that reflect current audience realities and platform capabilities. In addition to evolving measurement standards of big data with panels, Nielsen supports Media Rating Council (MRC) Cross Platform standards for video as well as World Federation of Advertisers and Association of National Advertisers proposals. As advertisers continue to raise the bar, Nielsen will respond. Nielsen One is designed to be responsive to and fully supportive of the industry’s cross media measurement standards as well as adaptive to future iterations.

Nielsen is the only media measurement company today that continually delivers the unbiased and comprehensive measurement data necessary to power a better media future for all. We are driven to meet the needs of the industry we measure, and believe our combination of individual-level household panel insights and big data is unique and critical.

We haven’t been perfect. We were slow to explain how the health and safety-related measures we took led to a reduction of our panel size. We have increased the frequency and openness of our communications and will share future developments in a more timely and transparent manner. We have and will continue to respond to the MRC and our clients on areas we can improve, as their audiences are changing at a rapid pace. We hear and sincerely value this feedback.  

Today, 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. 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 remain dedicated to serving the needs of the industry and are committed to ensuring the most robust media measurement available. We look forward to sharing these developments on an accelerated timeline. 

We invite you to learn more about how we are building the future of audience measurement with measurement integrity at Nielsen.com/measurementintegrity.

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