Nielsen seeking new path with 'urgency' after poor earnings report

Nielsen reorganizes business units after rough 2018

Nielsen is setting itself on a new course following a financially difficult 2018. Full-year revenue dropped 0.9%, and fourth quarter revenues fell by 5.8% compared to the last fiscal quarter of 2017.

Nielsen chief executive officer David Kenny called 2018 a "challenging year" and said the company will focus on transforming into a product-driven technology organization.

That shift starts with a reorganization into two new segments: Nielsen Global Media and Nielsen Global Connect.

"These moves better align our external view to our go-forward internal view, help drive greater accountability throughout the organization, and are consistent with a product-driven focus. Altogether, the initiatives we have in place are setting up a strong foundation from which we expect to drive greater revenue growth, profitability and shareholder value over the coming years," said Kenny.

Kenny added that the transition could see the company do anything from remaining public to selling the entire business.

"The strategic review is ongoing and the board is working with urgency on this process... This could include continuing to operate as a public, independent company, a separation of either Nielsen's Global Media or Global Connect segment, or a sale of the whole company. The process that we are undertaking will enable us to determine the best path forward in order to maximize value for all of our shareholders."

Looking at its existing business units, fourth quarter revenues within Nielsen Watch fell by 3.5%, and revenues within the Buy segment dropped by 8.4%.

Full-year revenue within Watch actually increased by 2.3%, while Buy revenue decreased by 4.1%.

Nielsen's Buy segment provides retailers and manufacturers with consumer purchasing data. Its Watch segment provides Nielsen's media and advertising clients audience measurement analytics across devices where content is consumed.

Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at GroupM, said Nielsen "missed where they needed to be" as viewing habits shifted in today's media landscape. But Wieser added that the company doesn't stand to gain anything from selling off its Buy and Watch segments.

"There is meaningful synergy [between Buy and Watch]. In fact, I would argue the opposite is true. The company would probably benefit from owning researcher data properties in more verticals, not fewer verticals, and integrating that with the Watch side."

Wieser made these comments to The Drum while serving as a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group. He joined GroupM shortly thereafter, at the beginning of February.

Nielsen has made efforts to adapt to the changing digital marketplace after a tough year. It recently bought Sorenson Media to create an addressable TV ad group.

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