Type: - Subsidiary
On the web: http://www.acnielsen.com
When you shop till you drop, ACNielsen keeps track of every step. A subsidiary of
business information giant Nielsen, ACNielsen is a leading collector of retail sales data. It
compiles data from retail store scanners and in-store audits in about 100 countries,
providing information on market share, pricing, and promotional effectiveness. It also
collects information on brand loyalty, purchases, and demographics through a consumer
panel (Nielsen Homescan) that spans about 300,000 households in more than 25 countries.
In addition, ACNielsen offers custom research services and support software designed to
help its clients use its data. Sister company Nielsen Media Research measures TV viewing
Key numbers for fiscal year ending December, 2007:
Chairman: Susan D. Whiting
SVP and Global Chief Marketing and Client Service Officer: Thomas E. (Tom) Markert
CIO: Market Research Services
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5min Videos: a c NIELSEN
ACNielsen Corporation is the world's leading provider of market research, information and
analysis to the consumer products and services industries. More than 9,000 clients in more
than 100 countries rely on ACNielsen's dedicated professionals to measure competitive
marketplace dynamics, to understand consumer attitudes and behavior, and to develop
advanced analytical insights that generate increased sales and profits.
1923: Arthur Charles Nielsen, Sr., founds the A.C. Nielsen
1935: A.C. Nielsen creates quot;market sharequot; concept.
1939: A.C. Nielsen opens office in United Kingdom.
1984: A.C. Nielsen is acquired by Dun & Bradstreet.
1987: Nielsen Media Research enters into joint venture with
1988: NPD/Nielsen Inc. launches National Electronic Household
1996: Dun & Bradstreet spins off A.C. Nielsen Company;
1999: ACNielsen Media International is launched.
2000: VNU announces plans to acquire ACNielsen Corporation.
Company History: ACNielsen Corporation
Home > Library > Business & Finance > Company Histories
Incorporated: 1929 as A.C. Nielsen Company
NAIC: 54191 Marketing Research and Public Opinion Polling
SIC: 8732 Commercial Nonphysical Research
ACNielsen Corporation is the global leader in consumer research, offering comprehensive
information that tracks sales, volume, shares, trends, pricing, promotions, distribution, and
inventory levels for corporate clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The company
was originally founded in 1923. In 1996, while under the ownership of The Dun &
Bradstreet Corporation, the research firm was split off into two separate entities:
ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research. However, in December 2000 Netherlands-based
VNU N.V. announced that it would be acquiring ACNielsen and reuniting it with Nielsen
Media, which the information powerhouse had purchased the previous year.
The company's origins date back to 1923, when an engineer by the name of Arthur C.
Nielsen borrowed $45,000 to start a business running quality tests and offering buying
suggestions on conveyor belts, turbine generators, and other machine-related parts. After
that business was nearly bowled over by the Depression, Nielsen shifted to measuring
consumer sales. In 1933, Nielsen introduced measurements for drugstore and retail store
sales. A year later, similar measurements were introduced for grocery and department store
sales. By going beyond conventional consumer questionnaires and having auditors actually
survey store shelves and accounting books to determine sales patterns, Nielsen helped
pioneer key market research tools--including the concept of market share in 1935.
While he was shaping the discipline of marketing research, Nielsen faced the difficult task
of drumming up demand for his services. The labor required to gather and tabulate useful
data was expensive, and many businesses were skeptical about paying top dollar for data
that they thought they could gather almost as effectively themselves. quot;For years my father
would go around and try and explain that his work was worth something. He'd quote the
price. And he couldn't get any takers,quot; Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr., told Barry Stavro of Forbes
in 1984. Nielsen recalled that his father's attempts to sell his services to Kellogg Co. were
rebuffed on the grounds that the cereal giant already had its own, cheaper alternative: quot;a
guy stationed outside the gates trying to see how many carloads General Foods shipped
Though sales did not always come easily to the budding leader in marketing research, A.C.
Nielsen Company enjoyed continued growth into the 1950s. That decade saw the
emergence of new industries in mass media through radio and television--areas that called
for new forms of marketing measurement that Nielsen was equipped to provide. Indeed, as
early as 1942, Nielsen began measurement of radio audiences on a national scale. In radio's
heyday following World War II, determining radio ratings was a labor-intensive endeavor:
listeners would send cards to advertisers, who would actually weigh the mailbags to
determine which shows were most popular. Improving upon this technique, Nielsen
attached meters to radios in sample households and, eventually, installed cameras that took
pictures of the meter readings. The heads of the households then mailed the pictures in to
the rating company on a regular basis. In the 1950s, the advent of television and the need
for ever-quicker rating techniques spurred the development of meter readers that Nielsen
attached to telephone lines for quot;overnightquot; TV ratings. This method saved time over past
techniques, but costs were extremely high. Still, the relatively young company persisted,
driven by the belief that the TV market would grow--and communications technology
along with it--as-ough to compensate for the high costs of tracking market trends.
Nielsen's projections were right on the mark, and the rapid growth of television worked to
the overwhelming advantage of the marketing research company. By the mid-1980s, more
than $19 billion was spent on national TV advertising; Nielsen metered more than 5,500
homes and generated approximately $100 million in revenue from that business segment
alone. Encouraged by the continued success of its media rating service, the company
established a separate division to manage it. Nielsen Media Research provided television
advertisers, advertising agencies, syndicates, cable operators, networks, and stations with
TV-rating information to increase the effectiveness of television advertising and
programming into the 21st century.
A.C. Nielsen, Sr.'s efforts gained momentum in 1945 when his son, A.C. Nielsen, Jr.,
joined the firm, bringing new energy and ideas. The time-consuming tasks of sorting
through data cards and doing calculations on slide rules prompted the younger Nielsen to
consider emerging computer technology as a way to reduce the time and costs involved in
managing the data so crucial to their business. In 1952, the company acquired one of the
first computers manufactured by IBM. Although it was unwieldy in size and function
compared to later models, it nonetheless marked a milestone in efficiency. Nielsen, Jr., also
helped implement a training program that allowed the company to disseminate its expertise
in cutting-edge marketing research tools to its growing employee base.
Such technological and administrative advances helped position A.C. Nielsen Company for
decades of growth and diversification. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, the
company developed new information-management systems and attracted a broader client
base. In 1963, Nielsen introduced measurement of sales at mass merchandisers, providing a
bulk of consumer-related information that would have been virtually unmanageable just a
decade earlier. Three years later, a system of warehouse withdrawal reporting was
introduced. In addition, the company established a coupon clearinghouse segment that
would top $91 million in volume by the mid-1980s, with no sign of slowing down.
A momentous advancement for Nielsen was the development of scanning technology,
which allowed the company to collect accurate and instantaneous data on consumer
purchases as they occurred. Scanning of universal product codes at retail stores was
introduced in 1977. By 1979, Nielsen offered local SCANTRACK service, which gave
clients proprietary means of tracking specific market trends and producing custom reports
to develop better marketing and distribution plans. A year later, such services were
available on the national level. Scanning technology and data processing software
continued to improve, and by the mid-1990s Nielsen considered retail scanning information
quot;the nerve center of the changes now underway,quot; according to the company's promotional
literature. quot;Not only do scanning databases bring a speed and precision never previously
possible, they also provide the foundation for a range of diagnostic and analytical
applications which can help clients find and implement solutions that grow their revenues
and minimize the cost of delivering their products to their consumers.quot; In 1993, Nielsen
became the first in the industry to offer scanning-based information from warehouse clubs
with the introduction of the Nielsen Warehouse Club Service.
Nielsen's unparalleled status as a marketing research leader drew the attention of The Dun
& Bradstreet Corporation, and Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr., sold A.C. Nielsen Company to the
financial data giant for $1.3 billion in stock, a remarkable 26 times earnings, in May 1984.
In fact, the two companies had been considering such a merger for over 15 years, as
Nielsen, Jr., and Harrington Drake, chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, told the New
York Times. quot;We both have the ability to collect a lot of data and deliver it efficiently to
clients,quot; Nielsen, Jr., explained. quot;I'm sure Nielsen will take advantage of our technology as
well as our data bases,quot; Drake added.
With the backing of its powerful parent, Nielsen continued to grow rapidly, entering
several alliances and introducing new products in the late 1980s. In June 1987, Nielsen
Marketing Research and The NPD Group signed a contract to establish electronic
household panel services through a joint venture, NPD/Nielsen Inc. The venture had three
main objectives: to measure all marketing stimuli received by sample households,
including TV commercials and product purchases; to measure consumer response to
promotions at the local market level; and to provide profiles by product category and brand
by integrating facts from store, retail-promotion, TV-commercial, coupon distribution, and
household databases. The scope of the project was enormous, offering detail and
complexity unprecedented in the marketing research industry. By 1991--just three years
after its inception--the National Electronic Household Panel announced coverage of 40,000
Nielsen also formed other key alliances. In August 1987, Dun & Bradstreet acquired
Information Resources Inc. (IRI), bringing the market research quot;wonderkidquot; together with
its rival, Nielsen. IRI's flagship product, BehaviorScan, provided a highly effective method
for analyzing the effectiveness of TV commercials. Under the auspices of the same parent,
IRI and Nielsen were freed from the quot;upward battlequot; of head-on competition and were
better positioned to focus on new product development, according to David Snyder in
Crain's Chicago Business. A similar collaboration of formerly competitive forces occurred
in 1988, when Nielsen acquired Logistics Data Systems, the market leader whose software
product, SPACEMAN, helped retailers profitably manage shelf space and display areas.
Capitalizing on new developments in networking, information modeling, and forecasting,
Nielsen was able to introduce a wave of new products in the early 1990s. The company's
decision-support and software services enabled customers to retrieve data and analyze
information via terminals and personal computers installed in their offices. Such
information was accessible in a number of ways, including online connection to
mainframes or permanent downloading of information into customers' in-house
information systems. In 1990 alone, new product introductions included: a national
Convenience Store Service representing all major U.S. chains; the SCANTRACK
Food/Drug Combo Retail Outlet Service, representing all major U.S. chains; the Discount
Drug Service for health and beauty aids (HBA) customers; WealthWise, a modeling tool
for consumer-oriented financial services firms; and ScorePlus, which provided
demographic and product-use data applicable to specific trading areas.
New product introductions kept pace with rapid growth in demand, as ever more powerful
computer processing systems were made available to Nielsen's customer base. In 1991, the
company introduced Spotlight, a system that enabled users to locate and account for
volume and share changes for given brands. That system would win an award for
outstanding artificial intelligence application from the American Association for Artificial
Intelligence in 1992. Other products introduced that year included: Nielsen Sales Advisor,
SCANTRACK Category Manager, and ScanQuick. In addition, PROCISION provided a
single source for tracking all components of HBA marketing, and the Nielsen Workstation
provided Windows-based support for marketers. In 1993, the company introduced Nielsen
Opportunity Explorer to help marketing and sales professionals understand category
dynamics and pinpoint sales opportunities. Along with Nielsen Promotion Simulator, that
product placed first in the software applications category at the Information Industry
Association's Product Achievement Awards in 1993.
Responding to overwhelming demand for its efficiency-related solutions in the consumer
packaged goods industry, in 1993 Nielsen created a separate division for Efficient
Consumer Response (ECR) and began forging ties within the industry to enhance its
capabilities. The key objectives of ECR were to streamline distribution and sales processes,
eliminate waste, and deliver product to consumers faster and at a lower cost. One example
was the 1993 implementation of a Micro-Marketing system--Nielsen's Eagle Eye--to help
the Anheuser-Busch Company work with its retailers to organize space plans, marketing,
and distribution for maximum sales. One retail chain that implemented the system saw an
annual potential increase in beer category sales of $3.2 million, according to Nielsen
In a joint effort aimed at ECR implementation around the globe, the company worked
together with suppliers and distributors to form the Nielsen Solution Partners program in
1994. The program was designed to align the quot;best practicesquot; of industry leaders, such as
NON-STOP Logistics, a state-of-the-art cross-docking network focused on reducing
warehouse inventory and speeding the delivery process from plants to stores. Heading into
the 21st century, one of Nielsen's key objectives was to strengthen that partnership and
thereby contribute innovative solutions to ECR in general.
Nielsen also continued to increase its global presence. Indeed, the company's international
reach grew steadily after its first overseas office was opened in England in 1939. By 1991,
the company had opened an office in its 28th country, Hungary. In 1993, the company was
looking into a subsidiary office in Israel. In April 1994, Nielsen expanded into South
Africa through a partnership with Integrated Business Information Services (IBIS), the
premier market research company in that country. Serge Olun, President and CEO of A.C.
Nielsen, told Business Wire in 1994 that quot;Nielsen is moving aggressively today to negotiate
further partnerships in South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and
elsewhere.quot; He cited plans to increase the company's coverage to 70 countries worldwide
by 1995. In April 1995, the company made significant progress toward achieving that goal
when it extended its global coverage to six countries in Central America: Costa Rica,
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. Since its origin as a strictly
American concern in the 1920s, Nielsen branched out until 70 percent of its business came
from outside the United States in the 1990s.
By the mid~1990s, Nielsen had asserted its dominance in the marketing information
industry by successfully consolidating or winning back 26 consumer packaged goods
clients, such as Dole Foods, Tambrands, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, and
Clairol. It also remained king of the hill in media rating services--especially since its main
TV-rating competitor, The Arbitron Company, stopped providing local TV ratings at the
end of 1993. Nielsen, a company that started as a rating service for conveyor belts, became
a global success story by gathering information from an ever-increasing variety of sources
and turning it into valuable products.
Unfortunately, intense competition and prolonged pricing wars with market research rivals
like Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), particularly in the supermarket scanner information
sector, began to have a significantly negative impact on A.C. Nielsen's earnings by the
mid-1990s. In January 1996 Dun & Bradstreet, intent on unloading its less profitable
divisions, announced a plan to split into three separate public companies: Dun &
Bradstreet; Cognizant, which was to be comprised of Dun & Bradstreet's three fastest
growing units, including Nielsen Media Research; and ACNielsen Corporation. The
demerger, which was completed by November of that year, left the struggling ACNielsen
to fend for itself.
However, the company's new chairman and CEO, Nicholas L. Trivisonno, was determined
to turn things around. Promising to reinvigorate Nielsen's focus on customer service and to
streamline company operations, Trivisonno was able to restore the company to profitability
almost immediately. Increased efficiency and improved services in Nielsen's U.S. and
European operations resulted in a strong fourth quarter for fiscal 1996, and by April 1998
the company was enjoying a profitable first quarter for the first time in five years.
A series of strategic acquisitions further strengthened the newly independent company's
position. In 1997 Nielsen merged with Entertainment Data, Inc. to form ACNielsen EDI, a
new division dedicated to providing up-to-the-minute box office returns to the motion
picture industry. In 1998 the company acquired The BASES Group, an international
provider of simulated test marketing services and proprietary products, to create ACNielsen
BASES, and the following year it purchased Media Monitoring Services Ltd., one of
Britain's leading advertising measurement services. Throughout this period Nielsen also
entered into a number of new partnerships with major consumer goods companies,
including Safeway, Quaker Oats, and Nestl? USA.
The company also emphasized global expansion in the latter half of the 1990s. In 1999 it
launched ACNielsen Media International, with the aim of consolidating the company's
diverse broadcast and print capabilities worldwide. Aiming to increase its overall client
base, Nielsen actively pursued new audience measurement contracts in a number of
emerging international markets, including China, where it quickly situated its Peoplemeter
audience measurement service in ten major cities. In September 1998 the company
increased its ownership in AMER Nielsen Research to 100 percent, in order to strengthen
its hold on consumer data markets in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Sub-Sahara
Africa, and India; in the same month the company also acquired a 49 percent stake in
AMER World Research Ltd.--which charted consumer trends in the Middle East and North
Africa--with an option to purchase the remaining 51 percent by 2003.
Adapting to the rapid proliferation of new technologies in the late 1990s was a crucial
process for any company devoted to studying audience information, and the challenges
created by e~commerce and interactive media largely dictated the direction of Nielsen's
international growth during this time. In 1999 the company entered into a joint partnership
with NetRatings to form ACNielsen eRatings.com, the world's first global Internet data
measurement service. By July 2000, the new division had expanded its client base to 520
worldwide, solidifying its position as the leading provider of consumer e~commerce
information in the world.
This continued financial success and rapid growth sparked the interest of Dutch media and
marketing giant VNU, and in December 2000 a merger agreement was announced, making
ACNielsen a wholly owned subsidiary once again. The deal reunited the company with
Nielsen Media Research, which VNU had acquired the previous year. Working together,
the two market research leaders clearly enjoyed a competitive advantage as they moved
forward into the information age.
AC Nielsen EDI; AC Nielsen eRatings.com; AC Nielsen Bases; AC Nielsen International
The Arbitron Company; Information Resources, Inc.; Taylor Nelson Sofres plc; WPP
quot;A. C. Nielsen Extends Global Reach to Six Countries in Central America,quot; Canada News
Wire, April 18, 1995.
quot;A. C. Nielsen Signs Pan-European Contract with Reckitt & Colman; Global Expansion
Continues at Record Pace,quot; PR Newswire, March 14, 1994.
quot;A.C. Nielsen to Israel; Plans Subsidiary,quot; Israel Business Today, July 2, 1993, p. 5.
Alexander, Keith L., quot;Dutch Firm VNU to Buy ACNielsen in $2.3B Deal,quot; USA TODAY,
December 19, 2000.
Clark, Kenneth R., quot;CBS Taps 2nd Ratings Firm in Jab at Nielsen,quot; Chicago Tribune,
November 5, 1991, p. C1.
------, quot;Maxwell Firm to Challenge Nielsen,quot; Chicago Tribune, June 20, 1990, p. C3.
------, quot;Nielsen Acts to Upgrade TV Monitoring System,quot; Chicago Tribune, June 6, 1990,
quot;Dun & Bradstreet to Link Nielsen and IMS Data with Manugistics' Supply Chain
Management Software to Provide Integrated ECR Solution,quot; PR Newswire, August 8,
Farhi, Paul, quot;Maryland-Based `Peoplemeter' Firm Is Suspending Its Operation; Demise
Leaves Nielsen As Only TV Ratings Firm in U.S.,quot; Washington Post, July 30, 1988, p.
quot;GTE Interactive Services and Nielsen to Conduct Market Test,quot; PR Newswire, May 6,
Haire, Kevlin C., quot;TV Stations Rate Need for Nielsen,quot; Baltimore Business Journal,
October 22, 1993, p. 5.
Jackovics, Ted, quot;Eye to the Future,quot; Tampa Tribune, January 25, 1999.
Jackson, Tony, quot;Dun & Bradstreet to Split into Three,quot; Financial Times (London), January
Koranteng, Juliana, quot;ACNielsen Shoots for Global Growth,quot; Advertising Age International,
June 1, 1999.
Millenson, Michael L., quot;Arbitron Leaves TV to Nielsen,quot; Chicago Tribune, October 19,
1993, p. N1.
quot;Nielsen Expands into South Africa Through Partnership with IBIS,quot; PR Newswire, April
quot;Nielsen Marketing Research Announces Joint Venture with the NPD Group,quot; Business
Wire, June 15, 1987.
quot;Nielsen's New Magazine Measurement Service a Boon to Marketers and Advertisers,quot; PR
Newswire, March 25, 1991.
quot;Revlon Signs Agreement with Nielsen; Significantly Expands Current Relationship,quot; PR
Newswire, July 26, 1994.
Salibian, Catherine E., quot;Marketing Firm Lodges Action Against Nielsen,quot; Rochester
Business Journal, July 24, 1989, p. 1.
Salmans, Sandra, quot;Dun and Nielsen: Compatible Goals,quot; New York Times, May 21, 1984,
Snyder, David, quot;Why Archrivals IRI, A.C. Nielsen Merged,quot; Crain's Chicago Business,
August 31, 1987, p. 1.
Stavro, Barry, quot;Rating Nielsen,quot; Forbes, December 17, 1984, p. 100.
— Kerstan Cohen; Updated by Stephen Meyer
Marketing Dictionary: ACNielsen Company
Home > Library > Business & Finance > Marketing Dictionary
One of the largest marketing research firms in the world, with worldwide headquarters in
Stamford, Connecticut, and regional headquarters in Belgium (serving Europe, the Middle
East, and Africa), Illinois (serving the Americas), and Hong Kong (serving Asia Pacific).
ACNielsen offers services in over 90 countries and is considered a global leader in
delivering market research, information, and analysis to the consumer products and service
industries. Available on a subscription basis, services include retail measurement,
consumer panels, media measurement, customized research, information delivery, and
merchandising, all using a wide range of databases, decision support software, and
advanced analytic models for the benefit of consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, and
brokers. The scanning-based databases provide detailed product sales and pricing patterns,
whereas the business applications and analytic tools are designed to help clients develop
effective sales, marketing, promotion, category management, and advertising programs.
Founded in 1923 by a 26-year-old engineer, Arthur C. Nielsen, the company was most
noted for its television rating services. However, in 1996, as part of a strategic
restructuring, the ratings division split apart from ACNielsen to become the nielsen media
Home > Library > Miscellaneous > Wikipedia
ACNielsen is a global marketing research firm, with worldwide headquarters in New York
City. Regional headquarters for North America are located in Schaumburg, IL. As of
2008, its the part of The Nielsen Company.
5 External links
This company was founded in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, by Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr., in order
to give marketers reliable and objective information on the impact of marketing and sales
programs. ACNielsen began expanding internationally in 1939, and now operates in more
than 100 countries.
One of ACNielsen's best known creations is the Nielsen Ratings, which measure television,
radio and newspaper audiences in their respective media markets. In 1950 they began
attaching recording devices to a statistical sample of about 1200 consumer television sets in
the U.S . These devices used photographic film in mail-in cartridges to record the
channels viewed by the consumer and thus determine audience size. Later they developed
electronic methods of data collection and transmission. In 1996, ACNielsen split off this
part of its operations into a separate company called Nielsen Media Research (NMR),
which operated as an independent company until it was acquired by Dutch conglomerate
VNU in 1999.
Another market research tool is the Homescan program where sample members track and
report all grocery and retail purchases, allowing purchasing patterns to be related to
household demographics. Homescan covers several countries including Australia, Canada,
and the United States.
In Germany, ACNielsen gained particular reputation for their introduction of the Nielsen
areas (or Nielsengebiete in German), each of which includes one or more German federal
states sharing a similar economic structure, culture, and consumer behaviour. To a
considerable part, marketing strategies in heterogeneous Germany depend on the
Nielsengebiete, this even leading to the result that some trademarks or marketing
campaigns have only been introduced in some of the Nielsengebiete. In addition, in many
newspapers or magazines disseminated nationwide, ads may be placed for just only one or
some Nielsengebiete; the circulation figures of print media are often stated according to
Nielsengebiete, as well.
In 2001, ACNielsen itself was acquired by VNU, as part of VNU's Marketing Information
group, and thus is now under the same corporate umbrella as the company it spawned,
NMR. Nielsen Media Research is based in New York City, while ACNielsen headquarters
remain in Schaumburg, Illinois.
ACNielsen is also sister company to Nielsen//NetRatings, which measures Internet and
digital media audiences, and Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which measures Consumer-Generated
IMS Health and ACNielsen ORG-MARG entered into a joint venture on the 1st of January
2004, aligning their health care information business operations in India, bringing together
the two organizations’ global expertise and strong local presence to deliver a broader array
of actionable, strategic solutions to the pharmaceutical market.
In 2005, ACNielsen initiated their MVP (Media Voice Panel) program. Panel members
carry an electronic monitor that detects the digital station and program identification codes
hidden within the TV and radio broadcasts they are exposed to. At night, members place
the monitor in a cradle that sends the collected data through the home's electrical wiring to
a relay device that transmits it by phone, making it one of the first practical uses of
electrical wiring as a home network. With an approximately one week notice to members,
the MVP program ended on March 17, 2008.
In 2007, the owner VNU changed their name to quot;The Nielsen Companyquot;.
Nielsen areas of Germany
ACNielsen Australian two party preferred and preferred prime minister polling
1996 - 2007
1. ^ Nielsen - Contact
Examples for marketing based on Nielsen areas:   
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