Nielsen Names David Kenny as New Chief Executive

Data expert has been with IBM, Weather Channel
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Nielsen Holding named former IBM and Weather Channel executive David Kenny as its new CEO, effective Dec. 3.

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Kenny will also join the board of directors of Nielsen, the top audience measurement company which is currently reviewing its strategic options including selling off its businesses or going private.

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Nielsen has long faced complaints from the industry about its inability to keep up with the changing ways people consume content and view advertising, but it has faced little competition over the years. More recently a string of smaller digitally focused research and analytics companies have been offering new ways of measuring media and analyzing the impact of advertising.

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Kenny replaces Mitch Barns, who announced his departure in July.

"The Board is delighted to announce David's appointment," said James Attwood, executive chair of Nielsen.

"His decades of experience in Big Data, artificial intelligence, cloud technologies, and media make him perfectly suited to lead Nielsen at this critical time. Having spent a substantial portion of his career working in the advertising world, he has a deep and holistic understanding of advertisers and how best to serve them, and he has a proven track record of implementing growth strategies, overseeing strategic transactions and creating value for stakeholders,” Attwood said. “His multi-disciplinary background and history of success make him a great fit for this position. The Board looks forward to David's participation in the ongoing strategic review as we work to enhance shareholder value."

Related: Nielsen Considers a Sale as It Expands Strategic Review 

According to documents file with the SEC, Kenny will have a base salary of $1.3 million and an annual target bonus of $1.925 million. He will also be getting restricted stock and stock options.

"Nielsen is uniquely placed at the intersection of marketing data and technology. In today's era of fast moving, ever changing consumers and markets, it is this combination that drives businesses forward," said Kenny. "I'm thrilled to join this industry-leading company at this point in time, when so much is possible.

Kenny had been senor VP of cognitive solution at IBM. Before that he was chairman and chief executive of The Weather Company, some of whose assets were acquired by IBM. Earlier he was with Akamai and Publicis.

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