Nielsen CEO David Kenny says the ratings company sees “a lot of potential” in its audio business and that includes podcasting. “Media is not only about what consumers watch it's about what they're listening to and consumers are listening across multiple platforms,” Kenny said during his company’s quarterly earnings call with analysts.
Front and center in that is Nielsen’s recently launched Podcast Listener Buying Power Service, a new qualitative measurement product that matches podcast listeners with their buying habits. The new service launched July 10 with five podcast networks as charter clients: iHeartMedia, Cadence13, Stitcher, Westwood One and cabana. Kenny said the new tool “enables media sellers to better communicate their podcasting value proposition to advertisers.” And while offering no specific details, he also told analysts that Nielsen is collaborating with iHeartMedia to use its ratings and consumer research to develop audio attribution tools to help demonstrate to advertisers that AM/FM radio, streaming radio and podcasting deliver sales results and boost brand image. Beyond that Kenny vowed Nielsen would “deeply integrate audio” into its other cross-platform analytic initiatives.
Reminding investors of the importance of audio was part of the narrative Kenny used with investors to shore up Nielsen’s position on the media landscape. On multiple occasions he used the phrase “one media truth” to describe the company’s unique value proposition and said the ongoing strategic review has “given us a lot of confidence” in Nielsen’s role in the overall industry. “Clients are looking to transact in new and different ways and we are enabling them to do this with trust and confidence,” Kenny explained. “Audience measurement, the foundation of the Nielsen business, remains solid across TV, audio and digital.”
Strategic Review Continues
Kenny said he is “pleased” with Nielsen’s revenue trends. Total company revenue for the quarter was $1.63 billion, down 1.2% versus a year earlier although when changes in international currencies are factored-in revenue would have been up 1.2%. Audience Measurement revenues grew 3.5% (+4.2% constant currency), which the company credited to more clients signing up for its Total Audience Measurement system. The audio division revenues were “down slightly” according to CFO Dave Anderson on the analyst call.
Multiple parties have kicked the tires on Nielsen since launching the review one year ago and Kenny noted that “anybody who's looked into our business sees just how essential we are, which has given us great confidence in the franchise.”
Kenny said Nielsen plans to complete the review process by the time it announces third quarter financial results – “if not before.” That gives the company another three months to wrap up the process. Putting a hard deadline on completing the lengthy review had Toni Kaplan from Morgan Stanley wondering what led to “the increased confidence” about finishing the review during the Q&A part of the call. Kaplan didn’t directly reference a Tuesday New York Post story that said Nielsen is open to selling itself in pieces after it couldn't find any takers to purchase the entire enterprise. “I’m not going to comment on that hypothetical split,” Kenny responded. “There's really nothing more to say, the confidence is just because we've made good progress.”