Nielsen is moving to quell fears that its TV measurement service is inaccurate and unreliable following a decision by the Media Rating Council earlier this month to officially suspend accreditation of its National Television service. For the second time in as many weeks, CEO David Kenny issued an open letter to the industry, while also telling Ad Age the company expects to regain accreditation within months, not years, as some have predicted.
“A healthy media industry requires measurement integrity—reliable, accurate, unbiased and inclusive media measurement that works for everyone, and measures everybody, everywhere,” Kenny says in the latest letter. “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.”
In the letter, Kenny acknowledges Nielsen dragged its heels when it came to explaining how suspending in-person recruitment, due to safety concerns during the pandemic, impacted its sample quality. “We were slow to explain how the health and safety-related measures we took led to a reduction of our panel size,” Kenny says. “We have increased the frequency and openness of our communications and will share future developments in a more timely and transparent manner.”
Kenny went on to say that the measurement giant will continue to respond to the MRC and its clients on areas where it can improve. He also outlined five things an effective measurement system must do, such as ensuring inclusion and representation, enabling true comparability across all platforms, deduplicating audiences and using the most advanced data science.
As for how long it will take to regain MRC accreditation, Kenny told Ad Age, “It’s months rather than weeks or years.” He also said Nielsen is committed to improving panel size and big-data analytics to better track video consumption by minorities, even as his primary focus remains getting the highly touted Nielsen One cross-platform measurement system off the ground by 2022.
MRC accreditation has long been viewed as an important third party stamp of approval for a measurement service that helps enhance clients’ confidence in the currency.
The letter and the commitment to regain accreditation come as Nielsen has been under fire for months over shortcomings for both its national and local TV measurement services. In the latest development, the Video Advertising Bureau is gathering players to form a task force to push the evolution of video measurement forward. The TV industry trade group, an outspoken critic of Nielsen, says it wants to create a unified approach and standards for TV measurement, something that has been missing as viewing shifts to streaming platforms. The Measurement Innovation Task Force will include representatives from the consortium OpenAP, NBCUniversal's new Measurement Innovation Forum and the Association of National Advertisers' Cross-Media Measurement initiative, among other industry initiatives.
“As each of these complementary initiatives explore, evaluate, and expand new measurement yardsticks, our new Task Force will provide regular feedback, questions, and perspective on behalf of every VAB member company,” said Sean Cunningham, President and CEO, VAB.