Nielsen Moves From Measuring Effects To Affecting Them: Wants To Change The Way Brands Advertise

In a shift from its historic role of simply researching and analyzing the effectiveness of media and advertising, Nielsen is launching a new initiative that will try to affect change. The effort, dubbed the Nielsen Innovation Lab, will combine Nielsen’s existing research with those of “external resources,” including those of its advertising and media clients, industry groups and academia, to develop better methods of advertising.

The lab, which is being unveiled today, has signed the Stanford School of Business as its first “collaborator,” and Nielsen executives say the school will “contribute creativity and academic rigor” to its initiatives.

While Nielsen has supported a variety of research and development initiatives in the past, including funding of the Council for Research Excellence, the new ad lab appears to be the first internal effort designed to specifically alter the way its clients utilize media. Nielsen executives say the lab’s goal is to develop “game-changing” solutions.

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Scott McKinley, the Nielsen executive vice president-advertising effectiveness who will oversee the lab’s efforts, said the ultimate goal would be to achieve Madison Avenue’s long-term “holy grail” of “understanding the true value” of advertising, including how it impacts the short- and long-term perceptions and behaviors of consumers.

The lab is the latest in a progression of initiatives by Nielsen to play a bigger role in advertising effectiveness research, including last year’s rollout of the Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, and its aggressive push to make it the standard bearer of advertising currency in the online media marketplace, as well as its integration with its multitude of “cross-platform” measurement products for other media.

Last week, Nielsen acquired online ad effectiveness researcher Vizu and said it would integrate its products into its online measurement services.

Nielsen did not elaborate on what other specific partners would be part of the lab, but implied it would be open to other academic institutions and clients, and that its goal wasn’t simply to conceive and research “groundbreaking ad effectiveness measurement,” but to actually “drive execution.”

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