The Nielsen Company is a Dutch-American media conglomerate, headquartered in New York, NY. Nielsen is active in over 100 countries, and employs some 35,000 people worldwide. Total revenues amounted to $4.7 billion in 2007.
David L. Calhoun is The Nielsen Company’s Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer. Calhoun came to Nielsen in 2006 from General Electric. Susan D. Whiting is the Executive Vice President of The Nielsen Company and Chairman of Nielsen Media Research. Whiting has been with Nielsen since 1978 and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in New York City business by Crain’s New York Business in 2007.
The Nielsen Company's major businesses include:
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. Arthur C. Nielsen is credited with coining this business term.
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.
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 acquired Nielsen Media Research in 1999. It later recombined the two halves of the business when it acquired AC Nielsen in 2001.
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.
In 2006, VNU was acquired by a group of six private equity firms which included Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P., Blackstone Group L.P., Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman LLC and AlpInvest Partners. 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.
Even before the company was sold, 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. In 2008, the company acquired IAG Research which measures viewer engagement with TV commercials.
The Nielsen Company Prices Initial Public Offering and Concurrent Offering of Mandatory Convertible Subordinated Bonds
Jan 29, 2011; Wireless News 01-29-2011 The Nielsen Company Prices Initial Public Offering and Concurrent Offering of Mandatory Convertible...
The Nielsen Company Prices Initial Public Offering and Concurrent Offering of Mandatory Convertible Subordinated Bonds.
Jan 30, 2011; Nielsen Holdings announced that it has priced its initial public offering of 71,428,572 shares of its common stock at $23.00 per...
The Nielsen Company joins with the Women's Business Development Center and Walgreens to Kick off Consumer Product Enhancement Competition.
Oct 30, 2010; In an announcement made at the Women's Business Development Center's (WBDC) 24th Annual Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon, The Nielsen...