New Media Should Distrust Nielsen
1 min read

New Media Should Distrust Nielsen

Despite all the buzz about the intersection of Buzzmetrics, Intelliseek, and VNU/Nielsen, I haven’t found anybody looking at it through the lens of Old Media, who knows what it’s like to have their market under the thumb of the dominant research provider, i.e. Nielsen.

The blogosphere is understandably excited that they’re finally going to get “measured” and play in the big league — “Yes, we are ready for prime time,” Jeff Jarvis asserts, and I share his excitement. The blogosphere is finally big enough to drive big league M&A. Steve Rubel focuses on the M&A angle, bragging that the fast pace of consumer generated media has forced Nielsen to buy it rather than build it. He’s right, and it’s a huge leap forward.

But be careful what you wish for. Jeff Jarvis’ choice of metaphor is actually quite ominous — ask broadcast media about the “privilege” of being measured by Nielsen, and why there has been an endless parade of headlines like “With Billions at Stake, TV Networks Question Ratings Measurements.”

The merger of Intelliseek and Buzzmetrics sounded like great news for blogs — and it still might be, because these are both innovative companies that probably still have New Media’s best interests at heart. It’s only when I found out that VNU had its paws on it and had branded it Nielsen that I got this ill feeling. And the ramifications for the blogosphere are (potentially) huge — as Old Media knows all too well, whoever controls the data controls the marketplace, i.e. the BIG ad dollars.

The business of media is about audience, at least as to advertising — advertisers pay to reach an audience. Thus whoever measures the audience controls everything. Nielsen has had a stranglehold on the broadcast market for decades, and I bet they’re licking their chops over the the blogosphere and New Media.

Many will be quick to point out that this is New Media, and we’re creating new business models, and we’re going to re-write all the rules. I can only hope that’s true.

The real incentive is for New Media to hurry up and figure out these new business models and get all the big advertisers (and other big spenders) on board, before Nielsen casts its long shadow over the playground.