Who is Nielsen?
The Nielsen Company, founded in 1923, tracks and ultimately sells data on “what people watch, listen to, and buy”. For the “Buy” business, Nielsen has relationships with all major retailers in the United States (Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, etc) where retailers provide their scanner data to Nielsen. This scanner data includes unit sales, pricing and promotion, unit size, geography, and more by various timeframes. Nielsen then uses this data to help these retailers manage their categories more effectively while also assisting consumer packaged goods companies with their brands. This model is similar to what is offered in the “Listen” and “Watch” businesses.
Who are Nielsen Competitors?
Nielsen faces significant competition across all of its businesses. Major competitors in the Buy space include IRI, Catalina, Dunnhumby, Ipsos, and Kantar Group. IRI, Catalina, and Dunnhumby create value through retail data while Ipsos and Kantar create value through new product testing and forecasting. Media tracking competitors include comScore, Rentrak, and TNS, a Kantar subsidiary. Their specialties range from measuring online media performance to social media tracking.
How is Niesen Different?
Initially Nielsen captured value by selling the data without any analysis or insight. Realizing that additional value could be captured through consulting on the data it was providing, Nielsen began to develop analytical capabilities and grow client service teams. Currently, what differentiates Nielsen from competitors on the Buy side of the business is that Nielsen is the standard for tracking and reporting retail data. Typically, data from companies like dunnhumby or Catalina are crossed checked with data from Nielsen. Nielsen also has long, established relationships with retailers who are just now seeing disruptions to their business model with grocery delivery companies.
With the Watch business, GRPs, a reporting metric created by Nielsen, is still important and differentiated for traditional tv tracking. However, this side of the business has been disrupted very quickly with many consumers watching tv online and on mobile. There is also the social experience that accompanies TV watching, and it can sometimes be more valuable from an advertising standpoint.
Where is Nielsen Now?
In the last few years Nielsen has established partnerships with Facebook and Twitter to create social unit measurements similar to GRPs. The goal is to allow companies to measure advertising effectiveness across platforms and understand what the equivalency for the various advertising opportunities. They have also extended relationships with traditional media conglomerates to track viewership through their online portals.
Nielsen has also tried to position itself as a thought leader around the data they have available. It is not uncommon to see reports and case studies on consumer spending, audiences, media consumptions, etc.
Although in a unique position to be the trusted marketing research and sales analytics advisor to many companies, Nielsen still has not figured out how to effectively provide tailored solutions across all of its capabilities. This is allowing incumbent players to enter Nielsen markets and gain traction with key clients.