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Nielsen Council Takes Shape

Jun 6, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Leadership and structure will be high on the agenda Wednesday in New York at the first meeting of those selected by Nielsen Media Research to join the board of the Council for Research Excellence.

Formerly known as the Research & Development Fund, the panel comprises more than 30 people representing Nielsen’s variety of client segments and leaders of key research industry associations. It is designed to function as a partnership in which the clients identify pure methodological research and development projects, from testing Nielsen’s ideas to exploring their own ideas on subjects such as universe estimates and language use. The panel has access to $2.5 million set aside by Nielsen for this purpose.

Nielsen also will foot the bill for making a team of research adviser-experts from academia and the government available to the council on request, said Paul Donato, Nielsen senior VP and chief research officer. Mr. Donato will be a nonvoting member of the board.

After some introductory remarks Wednesday, Mr. Donato plans to turn the proceedings over to Mark Kaline, global media manager for Ford Motor Co., who agreed to conduct the first meeting. Topics on tap for the meeting include the structure and procedures by which the council’s long-term chairperson and steering committee will operate.

“We’re trying to be minimally involved with the bootstrap but try to provide as much resources as is necessary,” Mr. Donato said. “Virtually everybody is optimistic that this is a very positive thing that they can elect to conduct research, to test a concern, to test a theory, to test a way of improving it. It’s funded. They have control.”

Clients “felt that unless they actually could be part of the execution of the project, that they would never really be able to fully test their own ideas and thoughts on things,” he said. “The critical thing will be, Can a broad cross-section of the industry be able to reach consensus on a couple of projects that are really important and fairly address the issues of all components of the industry?”

Subjects already known to be of interest to Nielsen’s clients include universe estimates and language use.

Mr. Donato said industry reaction has been positive to the concept of the board, which Nielsen announced along with other initiatives in February. He said thumbs up also have been given to the composition of the council, which includes representatives of some of the station groups that asked in unison last week that Nielsen stop rolling out the Local People Meter in new markets until all the existing markets have been fully accredited by the Media Rating Council.

“A lot of people want this to work,” Mr. Donato said.