Nielsen’s Own Mitch Barns Will Succeed Outside Hire David Calhoun as CEO

Company vet will take over Jan. 1

Sixteen-year Nielsen veteran Dwight "Mitch" Barns will become CEO of the company in 2014, succeeding David Calhoun, who will become executive chairman of Nielsen's board of directors, the company announced. James M. Kilts, the current chairman, will remain a company director after leaving the chairman post.

Calhoun came to Nielsen in 2006 from his position as vice chairman of General Electric, and oversaw the company's IPO in 2011, which increased his already sizable signing bonus and pay package to a reported $78 million. After the IPO, his contract was extended another two years.

Barns, by contrast, has deep roots inside the institution. He's currently the president of global client service, where he deals directly with the television stations and networks, and given the rapid expansion of the global telecom market, his experience as president of greater China for the company is bound to inform his new role.

With measurement companies springing up to challenge Nielsen's dominance in the expanding media world (notably comScore) and others providing data overlays to account for perceived inefficiencies in the company's data, Barns has his work cut out for him in the years ahead. But the incoming exec also has experience on the client side from 12 years working at Procter & Gamble and Nielsen BASES, a product that simulated test marketing for CPG—a huge category for many Nielsen clients.

He is, in other words, an exec familiar with most of the labyrinthine company's side streets and alleyways, and is perhaps the best-equipped to help its disparate parts work together. With Nielsen testing the strength of its data-gathering abilities on new products like DPR (which measures content consumption on digital media platforms), that is knowledge that will come in handy.