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Media giants, advertisers and marketers look to create better ratings system

September 10, 2009 |  7:21 am

A group of major media companies including broadcast and cable networks and major advertisers and agencies announced this morning that they are teaming up to try to develop new methods to measure how people consume media.

Among those participating in the venture are Time Warner, Viacom, CBS, NBC Universal, Walt Disney, News Corp., Discovery Communications, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Unilever and advertising giant WPP Group.

Dubbing themselves the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), the group said it will launch a research fund and review a series of pilot studies with independent measurement firms which would likely include Nielsen, the ratings giant that currently reigns king over audience measurement.

"We all have an urgent need to evolve our methods of measurement," said Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman in a statement. WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell said, "It is critical for the various constituencies to agree on the priorities for the next generation of media measurement systems."

Big media has been concerned for years that Nielsen's ratings are not always reflective of the viewing audience, and now that media consume content across so many platforms, those worries have grown. When word of the talks to form the CIMM first surfaced several weeks ago, people involved said the group would not be averse to working with Nielsen on developing new ways to measure content consumption

If the CIMM does develop a new measurement currency, it could face reluctance from companies not involved and could even raise eyebrows in Washington because of its industry roots and lack of independence.

CIMM said it will bring in an "independent managing director" to run the venture.

-- Joe Flint