Nielsen Taps Madison Ave. Vet David Kenny As CEO, Continues Strategic Review

Nielsen has named former Madison Avenue digital agency executive David Kenny CEO, succeeding Mitch Barns, who previously announced plans to retire at the end of the year.

Kenny, who most recently was senior vice president of IBM’s Cognitive Solutions unit, previously was CEO and chairman of The Weather Channel, which was acquired by IBM. Prior to that, he was president of Akamai Technologies after a 13-year stint on Madison Avenue.

Kenny is best known as the CEO of digital native agency Digitas, which was acquired by Publicis.

Nielsen’s board cited Kenny’s “multi-disciplinary background” and as a credential for his new role leading Nielsen.

Kenny also serves on the boards of Best Buy and Teach for America.

As part of the announcement, Nielsen’s board affirmed that it is continuing with a previously announced strategic review, including potential “strategic alternatives for the entire company and its businesses.”

The alternatives could mean the company continuing to operate in its current form as a publicly traded company or taking it private as an independent company, or separating its “Watch” (media research) and “Buy” (marketing research) businesses, as well as an outright sale of the entire company.

Nielsen also disclosed that Kenny’s salary as CEO will be $1.3 million, with an annual bonus target of $1.925 million.

3 comments about "Nielsen Taps Madison Ave. Vet David Kenny As CEO, Continues Strategic Review".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, November 20, 2018 at 10:04 a.m.

    Kenny's salary and target bonus seem low for such an accomplished industry executive. Will the outcome of the Nielsen "strategic review" change the future compensation?

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., November 20, 2018 at 10:14 a.m.

    @Henry Blaufox: Kenny will also receive millions in equity awards, as well as about $4 million in "make whole payments' offsetting incentive payments he would have received from IBM.

  3. Tracey Scheppach from Matter More Media, November 20, 2018 at 10:41 a.m.

    Getting the measument of media right is one the most important issues we face as an industry. Nielsen is so fortunate to have such an accomplished executive and a true leader and pioneer. I was fortunate to work for David at Publicis and if anyone can right the Nielsen ship it is David. 

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