At a time when fake news and disruptive technology are making it hard to distinguish the real from the fabricated, the premium of authenticity is going sky-high. From the latest newsbreak to an industry report, readers and viewers everywhere want to be assured that what they are consuming is nothing less than the unexpurgated truth.
One company that has successfully weathered the test of trends and unreliable measurement devices is the global research firm Nielsen. Its network covers 100 countries, providing its client corporations accurate data and analyses which of its campaigns are effective, how its consumers are behaving, and which of their products are dominating their respective industries. Recently, its Philippine office has released game-changing studies, such as the pre-eminence of mobile in successful digital campaigns, and the rapid expansion of the small-format stores despite the continued growth of the powerful supermarkets.
John Patrick Cua, managing director of Nielsen Philippines, names the key factor that has made the company endure for decades in the country, and almost a century in its home country, the United States of America; “We stand for independence and lack of bias. We are careful with the Nielsen brand and protect it because our clients trust us.”
While Nielsen’s famous ratings have often been associated with traditional media, the company has also been covering digital campaigns and platforms as well. The latter’s pace is faster, keeping everyone on their toes. At the same time, online media and measurement offers client companies certain advantages. Cua says, “We help advertisers determine if they did reach their correct target audience. This is done daily—and they can adjust. They don’t’ have to wait a month but they can change your placements every week.”
The accelerated pace and sudden changes in both digital technology and the market have also prompted the continuing drive to innovate. In the pipeline is a new measurement device that will assess the behavior patterns of what Cua calls the “total audience,” covering both digital and traditional media. Another groundbreaking product, Neurofocus, seems straight out of the annals of science fiction. Rooted in neuroscience, Cua describes it as “a methodology that uses the brain waves to help optimize the advertising programs and make them more effective. It will help brands optimize their marketing campaigns.”
Innovation has also spurred Nielsen’s workforce to shift their strategy and become more client-centric. There was a time that many of them were more focused on the numbers and the research. Without relinquishing that role, they are now encouraged to branch out and connect with their clients on a closer level, positioning themselves as “co-creators of solutions” that will address their requirements and re-mediate their issues.
Cua himself is undergoing the same transformation, making him the right person to lead the charge. A computer science degree and 16 years of working with systems, analytics, and finances in Procter & Gamble have made him adept in crafting business intelligence solutions. He then moved to Nielsen Philippines in 2013, holding as his last position the executive directorship of consumer packaged goods. Today, his focus as managing director is to promote the brand’s products and solutions to their B2B market, strengthen the relationships with his clientele, and ensure a robust financial bottom line.
“It is about profit and loss,” he says of his position that he assumed in October of 2017. “But then I’ve always wanted to run a business.”
Despite the headway that Nielsen has already carved in the Philippine market, Cua is enthused that there are still new frontiers waiting to be explored. He elaborates, “We want to help brands succeed if they want to expand into regional markets. For retailers that are family-owned, we want to help leverage their data and increase their profits. We can also help our media industry, online and offline, by leveraging their research to make them more profitable.”
Cua admits that part of the challenge of his job is contending with a lot of players in the market, both from the MNC and the agency sectors. One weapon in their arsenal is a principle that they have always lived by, and which is in great demand today: transparency. Cua elaborates, “Nielsen founder Arthur C. Nielsen said in the 1960s that markets that are more transparent operate more efficiently.” Done the right way, transparency can “actually provide more returns to Philippine companies.”