Arthur Nielsen

Arthur Nielsen

Founder of the research company ACNielsen
Date of Birth: 05.09.1897
Country: USA

Biography of Arthur Nielsen

Arthur Nielsen, an American researcher and founder of the research company ACNielsen, had a significant impact on commercial television. He revolutionized the industry by creating a unique global system for monitoring the audience of various information channels. Nielsen firmly believed that quality research was worth a substantial amount of money, and clients should be willing to invest in it.

Nielsen was born in Chicago in 1897 and obtained an engineering education from the University of Wisconsin. During his studies, he excelled in academics while also participating in sports and military affairs. He captained the university's tennis team and held a ranking officer position in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. Nielsen graduated with honors, achieving the highest grade point average in the history of the University of Wisconsin (95.8).

After completing his education, Nielsen worked as an engineer at Isko Company and later at H. P. Gould Company. In 1923, he founded the research company ACNielsen Co with a loan of $45,000 from his fraternity. Initially, ACNielsen focused on conducting surveys related to the quality of industrial equipment. Nielsen believed that written reviews from satisfied users were the best arguments for purchasing industrial equipment.

During the Great Depression, ACNielsen faced challenges but eventually thrived in the mid-1930s. In 1934, the company shifted its focus to retail auditing programs such as Nielsen Drug Index and Nielsen Food. These reports on prices and sales volumes in the pharmaceutical and food industries became vital for the American market. ACNielsen gained recognition as a leading marketing research company in the United States.

Nielsen expanded his research into radio advertising in the 1930s. In 1936, ACNielsen acquired the patent for an audimeter, a device that recorded the frequencies to which a radio receiver was tuned. This invention paved the way for the study of radio audiences. By 1949, ACNielsen's audimeters covered 97% of US households with radios.

In the early 1950s, Nielsen developed an improved version of the audimeter for television, leading ACNielsen to shift its focus to television ratings. The company introduced the Nielsen Television Index (NTI) and Nielsen Station Index (NSI) to measure television audiences. NTI conducted monthly telephone surveys to determine the memorability of television commercials, while NSI focused on local television stations.

In the 1970s, ACNielsen introduced the Instantaneous Audimeter (SIA), which mechanically recorded and stored minute-by-minute television viewing data. However, SIA and other audience measurement methods had limitations, as they could not accurately determine who precisely was watching a program.

In the 1990s, ACNielsen introduced the Portable People Meter (PPM), a device that collected television and radio viewing data by capturing identification signals embedded in the audio. PPM improved the accuracy of audience measurement.

ACNielsen continued to evolve and expand its operations. In 1984, the company merged with Dunn and Bradstreet, and in 2001, it became part of VNU, a global leader in marketing information systems and media measurement. Today, ACNielsen is a world leader in marketing research, information, and analysis for retail trade, services, and consumer goods. The company operates in over 100 countries worldwide.

Despite facing challenges in entering international markets, ACNielsen established its first overseas branch in London in 1939. The company gradually expanded into continental Europe, Australia, and Japan after World War II. Nielsen faced difficulties due to the limited commercial television and inconsistent audience research in European countries at the time. However, ACNielsen focused on educating potential clients about the importance of accurate measurements.

Arthur Nielsen gradually stepped back from the company's operations in the late 1950s. He passed the presidency to his son, Arthur Nielsen Jr., in 1957, while continuing to serve as the chairman of the board of directors. Arthur Charles Nielsen passed away in 1980 at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy that was carried on by his successors.