CIMM Says It Is Not Out To Replace Nielsen

Partners have around $1.4 million to seed innovation

Partners in the media and marketing consortium CIMM attempted to outline their mission Sept. 10 on a joint conference call and allay fears that their vision is about toppling Nielsen.

Colleen Fahey Rush, executive-VP of strategic insights and research at MTV Networks, said that Nielsen was free to respond to the group’s two requests for proposal. The first is aimed at getting firms to create a new cross-platform media measurement system and the second is to create a standard across a variety of set-top-box data sets that are being marketed by the cable and satellite industry. “We expect they will want to respond to our RFP. If they apply, we’d consider them as any other applicant,” said Fahey Rush. Nielsen has declined to comment.

NBC Universal’s President of Research, Alan Wurtzel, gave some hint that the motivation behind the group is about dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs saying, “This is all about the billions of dollars that ride on accurate measurement. It is time to take the future into our own hands.” Separately, NBC Universal is said to be close to finalizing its new five-year contract with Nielsen.

Turner Broadcasting’s chief Research Officer, Jack Wakshlag said the group would have a seven-figure amount to seed innovative ideas that may surface as a result of this initiative. Each of the 14 founding partners in the group has paid a $100,000 entrance fee.

Wurtzel explained that this was not about creating a new currency but rather a way of moving towards single source data measurement. Any company would be free to share its findings. “This organization is a little bit like PBS, we need everyone to contribute. It’s a lot like the honors system, it’s not venture capital, it is to find things that are out there and see if these things can be made viable and use them to improve measurement,” he said.

The $1.4 million figure would seem to pale in comparison to the $7.5 million over three years that Nielsen has already invested in the Council for Research Excellence, an independent cross industry body with a similar mission and membership to CIMM.

The charter of the Council for Research Excellence which produced a widely reported study on video viewing back in spring, reads: “The mission…is to advance the knowledge and practice of methodological research on audience measurement through the active collaboration of Nielsen Media Research and its clients.”  Its members include many of the same participants in CIMM: MTV Networks, NBC Universal, CBS, Disney, Warner Bros., Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Turner Broadcasting and WPP’s Group M among others. It is unclear if Nielsen would continue to fund this body given the parallel goals of the CIMM consortium.