Nielsen Holdings

    Nielsen Holdings NV history, profile and corporate video

     Nielsen Holdings NV is a global information and measurement company that provides clients with a comprehensive understanding of consumers and consumer behavior. It delivers critical media and marketing information, industry expertise marketing consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related assets. The company operates its business through three reporting segments: What Consumers Buy, What Consumers Watch and Expositions. The What Consumers Buy segment provides retail transactional measurement data, consumer behavior information and analytics primarily to businesses in the consumer packaged goods industry. This segment is organized into two areas: Information, which provides retail scanner and consumer panel-based measurement, and Insights, which provides a broad range of analytics. Its Buy products and services enables clients to better manage their brands, uncover new sources of demand, launch and grow new products, analyze their sales, improve their marketing mix and establish more effective consumer relationships. The Watch segment provides viewership data and analytics primarily to the media and advertising industries across television, online and mobile screens. Its Watch data is used by media clients to understand their audiences, establish the value of their advertising inventory and maximize the value of their content and advertising clients to plan and optimize their spending. The Expositions segment operates portfolios of business-to-business trade shows in the United States, including trade shows, events and conferences. The company was founded by Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr. in 1923 and is headquartered in New York, NY. 

    “Nielsen Holdings history

    Arthur C. Nielsen and the invention of “Market Share”

    Arthur C. Nielsen founded the AC Nielsen Company in 1923 with the idea of selling engineering performance surveys. It was the first company to offer market research. The company expanded its business in 1932 by creating a retail index that tracked the flow of food and drug purchases. This was the first retail measurement of its kind and for the first time allowed a company to determine its “share” of the market—the origination of the concept of “market share” Arthur C. Nielsen is credited with coining this business term.

    Radio and television

    In 1936, Arthur C. Nielsen acquired the Audimeter, which measured which radio stations a radio had been tuned to during the day. After tinkering with the device for a few years, the company created a national radio rating service in 1942. The company collected information on which stations were tuned to in 1,000 homes. Then, this survey data was sold to manufacturers who were interested in the popularity of programs and demographic information about listeners for advertising purposes. This was the birth of audience measurement that would become the most well-known part of Nielsen’s business when applied to television. Today, these are commonly referred to as “Nielsen ratings”.

    The company began measuring television audiences in 1950, at a time when the medium was just getting off the ground. Just as with radio, a sampling of homes across the U.S. was used to develop ratings. This information was collected on a device that was attached to a television that recorded what was being watched. In 1953, the company began sending out diaries to a smaller sample of homes (“Nielsen families”) within the survey to have them record what they had watched. This data was put together with information from the devices. This combination of data allowed the company to statistically estimate the number of Americans watching TV and the demographic breakdown of viewers. This became an important tool for advertisers and networks.

    In the 1980s, the company launched a new measurement device known as the “people meter”. The device resembles a remote control with buttons for each individual family member and extras for guests. Viewers push a button to signify when they are in the room and push it again when they leave, even if the TV is still on. This form of measurement was intended to provide a more accurate picture of who was watching and when.

    In July 2008, Nielsen released the first in a series of quarterly reports, detailing video and TV usage across the ‘three screens’ – Television, Internet and Mobile devices. The A2/M2 Three Screen Report also includes trends in timeshifted viewing behavior and its relationship to online video viewing, a demographic breakdown of mobile video viewers and DVR penetration.

    Mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and divestitures

    The company was acquired by the Dun & Bradstreet Company in 1984. D&B, as it is known today, broke Nielsen into two separate companies in 1996. These were Nielsen Media Research, which was responsible for TV ratings, and AC Nielsen, which was responsible for consumer shopping trends and box-office data. The Dutch publishing company VNU (Verenigde Nederlandse Uitgeverijen) acquired Nielsen Media Research in 1999. It later recombined the two halves of the business when it acquired AC Nielsen in 2001. In between, it sold its newspaper properties to Wegener and its consumer magazines to Sanoma.

    In 2004, Nielsen began a joint venture called AGB Nielsen Media Research with WPP Group’s AGB Group, a European competitor which provides similar services.

    VNU combined the Nielsen properties with other research and data collection units including BASES, Claritas, HCI and Spectra. The company’s publishing arm also owned several publications including The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard magazine. VNU began acquiring companies that added to its measurement capabilities. In 2006, it acquired a majority stake in Buzzmetrics, a company which measures consumer-generated media online. Under the new ownership, Nielsen bought the remaining shares of the company in 2007.In the same year, Nielsen acquired Telephia, which measures mobile media, and Bilesim Medya, a Turkish advertising intelligence firm.

    In 2006, VNU was acquired by a group of six private equity firms: the American Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman, and Dutch equity firm AlpInvest Partners for £5bn. In the same year, the group hired David L. Calhoun, formerly of General Electric, as CEO. He renamed VNU as The Nielsen Company in 2007.

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    VNU sold its business publications division in 2006 for €320m (£210m) to venture capital group 3i, which then sold the UK division (VNU Business Publications Ltd) to Incisive Media.

    In 2008, the company acquired IAG Research which measures viewer engagement with TV commercials. The same year Nielsen made a strategic investment in NeuroFocus, a California firm applying neuroscience brainwave techniques for consumer research. The firm was later fully acquired by Nielsen in 2011 In 2009 and 2010, Nielsen sold its business magazines; its well-known entertainment properties went to the new company e5 Global Media.

    In 2009, the company acquired The Cambridge Group, which is a management consulting firm headquartered in Chicago. The Cambridge Group works with CEOs and top management teams to drive growth. The firm has a distinctive expertise in tapping into latent and emerging consumer demand, and using these insights to drive product, service and marketing innovation across consumer-driven businesses.

    In June 2010 Nielsen paired with McKinsey & Company to create the social media consulting company NM Incite. NM Incite has operations in 13 global markets, including: US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, India, Brazil, Canada and Korea.

    In August 2011 Nielsen acquired Marketing Analytics, Inc. The acquisition strengthens Nielsen’s marketing ROI and marketing mix capabilities.

    In February 2012, Nielsen launched The Demand Institute in collaboration with The Conference Board. The Demand Institute is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization focused on helping business and government leaders understand how consumer demand is evolving and shifting around the world.

    In July 2012, Nielsen acquired the advertising tech company Vizu. The acquisition was made so that Nielsen can better analyze the effectiveness of online advertisement.

    On December 18, 2012, Nielsen announced that it would acquire Arbitron, a company primarily involved in radio audience measurement, for $1.26 billion.

    On June 17, 2013 Nielsen announced that Onex Corp (TSX: OCX) had completed the acquisition of Nielsen Expositions for $950 million in cash consideration. Nielsen Expositions operated tradeshows in the United States. The company was renamed Emerald Expositions Inc. after the transaction.

    On February 3, 2014 Nielsen announced the acquisition of Harris Interactive, Inc. (NASDAQ:HPOL). Harris is known widely for The Harris Poll.

    Becoming a public company

    Nielsen was a private company from 2006 through 2011. On January 25, 2011 the company listed itself on the New York Stock Exchange and issued an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that raised $1.8 billion in the largest private equity-backed U.S. IPO since 2006.”

    *Information from and

    **Video published on YouTube by “Nielsen



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