October 31, 2013

What’s in a Name?

It’s been a few weeks and reality is finally settling in. No, not that Breaking Bad is really over for good or that my Mets didn’t make it to the World Series once again. I’m talking about the Arbitron name; it’s really gone for good.

For an Arbitron alumnus like me, the disappearance of the name evokes an emotional reaction.  I worked in the company’s New York office from 1987 through 1993, a formative time in my career.  I met my wife playing for the company’s softball team.  I built friendships with colleagues there that have lasted for more than a quarter-century.

The disappearance of the Arbitron brand name, however, seems to be impacting many who were never even employed by the company.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard numerous clients and colleagues catching themselves (“Arbi…er, Nielsen Audio”) and doing so with a seeming unease about what the change means for those of us who have devoted our lives to the radio industry.

I don’t know what the changes mean for us. There are good people who will likely lose their jobs due to the redundancies between Arbitron and Nielsen.  There is hope that the resources of a bigger organization will lead to innovative new services and products for Nielsen Audio clients.  There is the potential for multi-media measurement that will demonstrate radio’s value better than ever.

What I really hope, however, is that Nielsen Audio continues to be a place that churns out good people who can help move our industry forward.  I can’t begin to describe how much I learned during the six years I worked there, mostly because I was surrounded by smart people who encouraged my professional development.  That culture is why Coleman Insights has had great success over the years bringing Arbitron alumni into our organization.  It started with Pierre Bouvard, who helped expand our company dramatically in the early 90s.  Other former Arbitron employees who helped the success of our company over the years include Frank Stanitski and Michael Pelaia.  We intend to extend that legacy with our recent hiring of Joanna Douglas, who spent more than a decade at Arbitron and played an important role in the company’s PPM rollout.

In the end, perhaps the name isn’t very important.  What is important is what the Arbitron name has always stood for in my mind—talented people who can enhance the radio industry’s success.  I hope that we can continue to think of Nielsen Audio in the same way.

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