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Nielsen under fire as Upfront Week begins

May 16, 2022
Illustration of the Nielsen logo with all shapes pointing down.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Nielsen's fall from grace has been abundantly clear. The deals that media executives have inked with other measurement companies were a clear sign of the company's tumble. That will all be on display this week during the Upfronts.

Why it matters: The media marketplace is trying to shake free from its reliance on Nielsen — or any one currency — to value their inventory. It could also make the process of buying and selling ads far more complicated.

Catch up quick: ViacomCBS announced a new partnership with VideoAmp last year. NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia (which is now under Warner Bros. Discovery) both linked up with

  • Disney is testing new measurement solutions with nearly 100 vendors including, LiveRamp, VideoAmp, Viant and Moat. It named Samba TV as an official partner in March.

Yes, but: Nielsen isn't gone. Disney is working with Nielsen on a new product via trials with ad agency Publicis Groupe. Fox's Tubi is expanding its relationship with Nielsen.

  • "Nielsen has been working with big data for almost a decade. We combine that with a high-quality panel to correct for the biases," Amenah Atai, general manager of digital and advanced TV for Nielsen, said during the company's virtual NewFront event earlier this month.

What they're saying: In a March research note, Craig Huber Associates threw shade on the narrative that Nielsen is losing market share to startups.

  • "...Despite the headlines, none of the large ad holding companies have even hinted at bailing on Nielsen and they are the ultimate arbiters in video measurement," the firm's analyst Doug Arthur wrote.
  • Linda Yaccarino, NBCU's chairman of global advertising and partnerships, told Axios during our Axios Pro live event earlier this month that the landscape is changing quickly.
  • "As the consumer has moved at lightning speed, across platforms, across screens, across distribution vehicles, measurement hasn't been able to keep up," she said.

What's next: Whatever changes may be brewing at Nielsen will be overseen by the company's new private equity owners.

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