Years ago, when she ran marketing at Enterprise Foods Co., a maker of deli meats in Johannesburg, the most successful new-product launch she ever championed and oversaw was the introduction of Like-it-Lean, a line of low-calorie meats, in her native South Africa. Today, as managing director of Nielsen Outdoor, she wants to top that success with the implementation and rollout of Nielsen Outdoor's Npod-short for Nielsen Personal Outdoor Device.
The hand-held meter uses global positioning system technology to track travel patterns of pedestrians, motorists and other commuters in relation to known outdoor sites, thus measuring their opportunity to see such displays. The new measurement technique has the potential, some believe, to double the outdoor industry's share of marketers' media dollars.
But even more stunning, perhaps, than Npod's potential impact on the outdoor advertising industry is the speed with which Nielsen Outdoor, a unit of VNU Media Measurement & Information, brought the device from concept to test market-less than one year.
"Because of its nature and its timeliness, this project required a management process and a pace that is a little different" than others, said Nielsen Media Research chief technology officer Bob Luff, one of the executives Ms. Hadfield tapped to get the Npod going shortly after she moved to the U.S. in early 2002.
Nielsen as well as its competitor Arbitron in 2001 and 2002 were both investigating new technological applications for measuring outdoor, and GPS was developing buzz within the industry. Through a connection, Ms. Hadfield met up in March 2002 with Roger Percy, founder of technology and media research firm RDP Associates, which developed an application of GPS that could be used to measure outdoor media audiences. The pair hit if off, and Ms. Hadfield was convinced that RDP's technology would be a powerful partner for Nielsen. Although some within the outdoor industry were skeptical about embracing a new technology, Ms. Hadfield and Mr. Luff, in conjunction with RDP founder Roger Percy, collaborated to resolve issues and overcome objections. "We were all enthusiastic about it," Mr. Luff said. "The excitement is catching. Lorraine carried the bigger bucket on that."
Developing allies in the outdoor industry, both at media-buying firms and from outdoor media companies, was crucial. "A lot of my vision went back to the principle and spirit of [Nielsen founder] Art Nielsen; in pioneering TV ratings, he set up a stakeholders council that helped him in the creation of the currency," Ms. Hadfield said. Early in the Npod's development, she signed up players such as Tony Jarvis at Grey Global Group's MediaCom and Paul Meyer, CEO, Clear Channel Outdoor. She also solicited input from advertising research groups including South Africa's Advertising Research Foundation and the U.K.'s Poster Audience Research to ensure that their approach incorporated as much state-of-the-art thinking as possible.
"We're not in the business of creating products and services that our clients don't want," said Bob McCann, chairman-CEO, Nielsen Media Research International, who brought Ms. Hadfield from South Africa, where she was managing director, A.C. Nielsen South Africa. "To [Lorraine's] credit is what appears to be an extraordinary success story."
Much of Ms. Hadfield's strengths, Mr. McCann said, come from her past experience, which includes stints as agency account executive as well as a radio station general manager, after early training at Unilever, where she started as an assistant brand manager right out of college at the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. "It helps, a lot, if you've been on the other side of the desk and can say to a client, `I know what your need is.' Lorraine has that," he said.
Name: Lorraine Hadfield
Title: Managing director, Nielsen Outdoor, a unit of VNU Media Measurement & Information; also managing director, Nielsen Media Research (International), North America and South Africa. Oversees Nielsen Monitor-Plus in U.S. and Canada
Who: Ms. Hadfield began her marketing career in 1973 at Unilever. She has held stints at McCann Erickson and Pillsbury Brands South Africa. In 1999 joined A.C. Nielsen in Johannesburg. Moved to the U.S. in 2002.
Challenge: To get outdoor media owners to recognize the value of investing in audience ratings, and overseeing the rollout of Npod in the top 10 markets in the U.S.