Arguably, when you are spending in excess of 70 billion dollars a year in advertising, you would want a pretty good handle on the reach and impact of the investment. A consortium of media companies (CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, Viacom and Discovery), Media companies (WPP and Publicis) and serious adverting spenders (P&G, Unilever and AT&T) are arguing just that. The leitmotiv is the ongoing lack of confidence in Nielsen's rating system and the need for a measurement mechanism that is capable of garnering data from the increasing number of screens from which TV programming and ads are available - the internet and the mobile device.
This is not the first time the networks and advertisers have tried to challenge Nielsen's hegemonic postition. In the 90s they spent 60 million dollars to set up a group called Statistical Research Inc. to take on Nielsen but refused to keep investing in the necessary technology to fully bring the offering to market and eventually let SRI fade away.