Trade Group Seeks Role in Nielsen Debate

LOS ANGELES The Advertising Research Foundation, an industry trade group, has asked for a seat at the table in the ongoing dispute over Nielsen Media Research’s introduction of its Local People Meter (LPM) in New York last week [Adweek Online, June 2].

ARF wants to lead a task force being formed by Nielsen with help from U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), said ARF president Bob Barocci. “We had Congressman Rangel at a meeting we had two weeks ago,” Barocci said. “The Congressman said we don’t want the issues to linger long enough for there to be a congressional hearing.”

Barocci said his group, which he regards as impartial in the controversy over how Nielsen is representing minorities in the sample of LPM households, has been following the issue closely because it “effects all of our members. Our decision to get involved in the task force has come about because research is taking a back seat to other issues.”

The composition of the task force has yet to be determined and Nielsen hopes to finalize its membership in the next few days, a Nielsen representative said.

“What’s at stake for the industry is what’s at stake for the ARF,” Barocci said. “It’s important that we move forward with accuracy. There’s no argument that LPMs will give us superior information, but now the debate has moved off topic.”

Nielsen is owned by VNU, parent of Adweek Magazines.

The ARF made its decision following a joint closed session of the Video Electronic Media Council and the Multicultural Council of the ARF last week in New York, but thegroup was also prompted by Fox-backed ads directed against Nielsen [Adweek, June 7]. Many ARF members were “appalled by the multimillion [dollar] campaign,” Barocci said. “It’s unprecedented. It’s an attack on the core issues of research, in that it creates bias. It could deter people from wanting to participate in a sample. And we need that currency for the industry to function.”