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Nielsen Shares Data Treasure With App Developers

Nielsen opens its vault of media and purchasing data through APIs so customers can embed that data in their own apps. One of eight profiles of InformationWeek Elite 100 Business Innovation Award winners.

Information and measurement company Nielsen is famous for its droves of data on everything from popular television shows and the Internet's most-visited websites to the products people buy. The company's newest project aims to open its vault of data through application programming interfaces so third-party application developers and customers can embed that information into their own apps.

Nielsen is building its ecosystem, called Nielsen Marketplace, on an API management platform to provide developers with a simpler environment to access Nielsen information. Think of the two megatrends of big data analysis and mobile. Nielsen has the big data, and the API platform and new developer partnerships could provide the channel to get that data onto more of the mobile platforms customers are using.

Nielsen CTO Kalyan Raman describes it as a chance to "embed Nielsen currency in decision-making systems of the new digital and big data economy."

[For more InformationWeek Elite 100 coverage and a complete listing of the top 100 companies click here.]

Having an API initiative is hardly groundbreaking, but what makes this interesting is the depth of data Nielsen brings, and the wide range of industries that might tap into it. For example, health and fitness apps might use Nielsen's nutrition and ingredient information, or small businesses could target their marketing using its demographic and segmentation data services. Academic and research institutions could integrate Nielsen's insights from television, radio, and the Internet into their curriculum and study aids.

The API platform project still is in the development stage, with the goal of a major test by midyear and a public launch after that. Because Nielsen captures information from so many sources and on so many markets, one of the challenges has been prioritizing which ones to include in its API, Raman says. To decide, the company queried app developers, partners, and clients to develop proofs of concept and prioritize based on their feedback.

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