Nielsen Will Accelerate Use Of Cloud And AI Tech

It’s out with the old and in with the new at Nielsen.

Revenue for Nielsen’s Watch segment decreased 3.5% to $881 million in Q4, while Buy segment revenue declined 8.4% to $777 million. But freshly minted CEO David Kenny has a plan.

Kenny, who joined Nielsen from IBM Watson in November 2018, wants to bring Nielsen’s technology to the cloud and to simplify its organization within two core platforms.

Going forward, Watch will be called Nielsen Global Media and include Nielsen’s audience measurement, planning and optimization offerings, while Buy will become Nielsen Global Connect and house measurement, prediction and activation tools for retailers.

“A lot has changed in both the media and FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] worlds, and as those markets change, so should Nielsen,” Kenny told investors during his first appearance on the company’s earnings call.

Nielsen’s plan for 2019 and beyond is three pronged, Kenny said: to have a clear road map that prioritizes salable products, for all those products to align on a single cloud-based architecture and to make them “modern” by using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Kenny is also intent on being “ruthless” and “retiring the many legacy systems that slow us down and drive inefficiency.”

“Maintaining multiple legacy systems is a killer to your economics,” he said.

But what about that ongoing strategic review?

Nielsen is under increasing pressure from Elliott Management Corp., a cutthroat hedge fund that owns an 8.4% stake in the company, to sell the business. The Nielsen board is still reviewing all options, which include continuing to operate as a public independent company, a possible separation of Nielsen’s Global Connect segment from its Media segment or a sale of the entire company.

The need to invest in a cohesive product road map and coalesce the platform, however, still applies regardless of whether Nielsen remains public, goes private or sells off its pieces, Kenny said.

“We know what we need to do and we’re laying that foundation,” Kenny said. “That means revenue growth, profitability and increased shareholder value over time – Nielsen can do better, it will do better and it must do better.”

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