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Is More Measurement Data, Better Data? Not Necessarily, Says GroupM’s Brian Wieser.

One week after Nielsen announced it would go private in a $16 billion transaction led by an affiliate of Elliott Investment Management, industry insiders continue to handicap the deal. While Brian Wieser, Global President of Business Intelligence at agency giant GroupM, says it’s likely the deal will go through, he questions why some people are complaining about the quality of Nielsen’s product yet aren’t willing to invest more to make it better.

“Would it surprise you to learn that Nielsen is not particularly well loved?” Wieser asks co-host Kate Scott-Dawkins in the latest episode of their “This Week, Next Week” podcast. “Just because people don't like a company or its products, doesn't mean it can't be incredibly successful.”

From there, Wieser make the case that everyone should expect to pay more for better research: “People are complaining about the product and not articulating the need to spend more to make for better products, rather than less.” Without naming names, Wieser said it’s “unrealistic” that smaller startups staking a position in the TV measurement business with fewer resources than Nielsen will produce a better product. “It doesn't mean they can't produce complementary products,” he says on the podcast. “It just strikes me as unlikely that with less money, they will produce better products.”

Nielsen has come under a barrage of negative press and criticism for measurement flaws and other missteps at a time when competing TV measurement providers are gaining more traction, including Innovid, VideoAmp and comScore. But Wieser says he’s perplexed at industry expectations that there should be less money spent on research, not more. “As the saying goes, you spend peanuts, you get monkeys.”

Nielsen’s calling card has long been its measurement panels, made up of households designed to form a representative sample of the marketplace. While it has had well-publicized problems with maintaining the size and representativeness of its panels during the pandemic (and before), it’s never going to be perfect, Wieser maintains. “The question is always, is it the best possible, most representative panel that you could realistically get, given the resources put into it?”

While detractors argue that tens of thousands of households can’t measure as accurately as millions, Wieser says that logic calls into question the value of representative sampling as a concept. “Since advertisers don't tend to care about individual programs as much as they do aggregated packages of programs, you can beg the question of whether or not you actually need to have millions of data points, if tens of thousands will do in many instances,” he argues.

Wieser makes the case that the industry needs to have the right data, not necessarily more data. “I'm making the point that more data isn't necessarily better data. And that's kind of the critical thing here,” he says. Listen to the podcast HERE.

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