Nielsen fixing the crack in its empire—will it live up to advertisers’ expectations?

Published: April 18, 2023

min read

After a 19-month suspension, Nielsen’s TV measurement stick has finally regained some of its clout after the Media Rating Council reinstated the company's national TV ratings.

Nielsen has long been known for its TV ratings in the United States, which provide viewer forecasts that networks use to sell commercial time and reassure advertisers that they earned what they paid for, based on a panel of households that allows the company to track what they watch.

The MRC audits media-measurement products to ensure the accuracy of their results, but it revoked its accreditation of Nielsen's national ratings following issues such as pandemic-related undercounting of viewers.

The announcement also came at a time when the company's business model was already being disrupted by consumers' shift towards streaming viewing, prompting buyers and sellers of ads to look for alternatives.

Right now, the lifting of the suspension does not completely clear Nielsen's record with the council. The accreditation of its local TV ratings product remains suspended, and other Nielsen services, including the Nielsen One initiative, which will provide cross-platform measurement, are still being audited.

Nielsen has corrected the problems in its national ratings service that led to its loss of accreditation 19 months ago. However, there is still work to be done in the short and long term to ensure Nielsen's [National Television Audience Measurement Services] continue to meet our standards and the industry's requirements.

George Ivie,

Executive director and CEO of the MRC

Furthermore, dissatisfaction with Nielsen prompted advertisers to look into other analytics providers, resulting in an increase in intense competition in this landscape.

However, the restored credibility gives the measurement giant an uplift as it seeks to survive against growing competition.

What does it mean for advertisers?

With the digital ecosystem constantly changing, Nielsen adjusted its methodology and adapted to the changes to make its data a prime element for negotiating currency and to maintain its position in the industry.

With technology continuing to evolve, people have so much content and so many ways and choices to consume it. It, in turn, amplifies audience fragmentation and adds a layer of difficulty to measurement. Hence, in today’s digital landscape, it is only becoming more crucial by the day for advertisers to get accurate and valuable data.

Each year, advertisers spend millions of dollars on TV advertising. For that, Nielsen’s or any other media research companies’ role is unimaginably crucial.

The reason advertisers solely rely on them is for so many reasons, like those below:

  • to understand the viewership of the shows
  • to determine the trends
  • to understand the size of the audience they are reaching.
  • to get insights on what types of TV ads are resonating well with audiences.
  • to plan effective media spends
  • to understand which shows their target segments watch the most.
  • to comprehend the effectiveness of the campaigns.

When data accuracy collapses, everything collapses for brands and advertisers.

The same is true when there are data discrepancies between media search companies. It can be considered nothing less than the huge leak of dollars for brands.

Hence, as a result of Nielsen’s data inaccuracy concerns, many advertisers have redirected their paths to try various other alternatives for measurement.

Yet some of them don’t think they could find an appropriate replacement for Nielsen.

Though the measurement alternatives have provided some additional benefits, they likely aren’t a complete replacement for Nielsen yet.

Juliet Corsinita,

Head of convergent video investment, US-based marketing, and media agency

Now, with Nielsen regaining media accreditation, it is not just Nielsen who gains strength; it will hopefully instill confidence in many advertisers.

It is not an easy game, though. It remains to be seen how Nielsen will build trust again and establish itself among its users.

Nonetheless, even with its accreditation suspended, Nielsen remained the dominant player in TV ad deals, owing to its size and longstanding authority in the industry.

And, again, only time will tell if the company will prove itself in order to regain its accreditation for local TV ratings and the Nielsen One initiative as well.


Sarah Johnson

Sarah is an analytical marketing expert with a passion for data-driven insights. She has a keen eye for detail and a talent for turning complex information into actionable strategies. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, travel, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


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