Nielsen names Karthik Rao as CEO

Original Work by Aaron Kotowski, all rights reserved ©Aaron Kotowski 2020

Audience research and analytics firm, Nielsen, has appointed Karthik Rao as chief executive officer, replacing predecessor, David Kenny. 

Rao will start the role effective immediately, with Kenny who served as CEO since 2018 to assume the role of executive chairman.

During his tenure Kenny was behind the relaunch of Nielsen’s streaming measurement suite in 2021 and led the company sale to private equity consortium, Evergreen and Brookfield.

Rao will be responsible for driving and evolving Nielsen’s audience measurement, with a primary focus on enabling a currency across all media distribution and consumption models globally.

The new Nielsen boss most recently served as chief operating officer and prior to that was CEO of Nielsen Portfolio. During which he led the fully independent division comprising Nielsen Entertainment, Nielsen Gracenote, Nielsen Brandbank and the Nielsen Telecom businesses across all global markets.

“Providing our client partners, the ad industry, and content creators of all types, the most accurate information possible is our singular goal,” Rao said. “Nielsen invented measurement a century ago. In that time, the way audiences consume content has fundamentally shifted many times over, and we are committed to continuing to partner with our customers to lead that change. I am fortunate to work alongside the best in the business, around the world, as we address unprecedented times of transition in our business. Together with our talented employees, I look forward to positioning Nielsen for the next century and beyond.”

“As I transition to my new role and my operating responsibilities come to an end, I hand over leadership to someone with extensive experience in knowing what Nielsen does best, backed by the skills and understanding to position the company for a vibrant future. He has my complete support and I wish him, and everyone at Nielsen, nothing but tremendous success,” Kenny said.

David Kerko, head of private equity at Elliott, added: “We have spent the past five years engaged with Nielsen, and even more closely since the acquisition nearly a year ago. We have seen great progress already, and we want to thank David for all he has done to contribute to that success. Karthik is now the right leader for Nielsen, which is well positioned to evolve with and support the media ecosystem as it undergoes a period of dramatic change. Karthik’s expansive industry experience, deep client relationships, and proven track record make him ideally suited to manage this evolution and make Nielsen’s value stronger than ever.”

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