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Nielsen and Oxford Researchers Accelerate AI-Powered Image Recognition of Products in Stores

Partnership with top university, led by world-renowned researchers, will automate product identification and classification

New York, NY — Sept. 24, 2019 — Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) and the University of Oxford today announced a two-year collaboration to advance the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and classify consumer packaged goods (CPG) products on shelves in retail stores. Facilitated between Nielsen’s Image Recognition group and the Visual Geometry Group (VGG) at the University of Oxford, this partnership brings together the world’s largest pool of product reference data with industry-leading brainpower around AI technology to yield greater accuracy in product identification and discovery.

Through this partnership, Nielsen is working directly with University of Oxford Professors Andrew Zisserman and Andrea Vedaldi (Department of Engineering Science), world-renowned computer scientists and pioneers in image recognition and AI research. Zisserman, Vedaldi and their team of research scientists will work together with Nielsen to more precisely and quickly identify and classify in-store products based on product images captured through Nielsen’s eCollection solution. The Oxford researchers will focus on building and enhancing the eCollection algorithms with increasingly advanced deep learning capabilities, enabling a more automatic detection of store products, promotions and prices without the need for manual intervention.

In recent years, Nielsen has advanced its eCollection image recognition capabilities with computer vision and machine learning so that large amounts of data and thousands of products can be processed. With an extensive track record of innovation, the VGG Oxford researchers are tasked with further enhancing Nielsen’s eCollection capabilities, which is expected to improve accuracy while reducing costs with Nielsen’s product identification and classification.

“Across industries, artificial intelligence has been extremely successful in using the scale of big data to drive value—but the next step is activating the very small details—like correctly and automatically recognizing specific features on different products, even when those products have similar visual characteristics,” said Arun Ramaswamy, CTO, Nielsen Global Connect. “By partnering with one of the top AI-focused university programs in the world, we’re taking the next step in driving business value from the most advanced implementation of emerging technology. We are excited to continue on our future-focused path with the University of Oxford.”

“Nielsen is uniquely positioned, as no company in the world has the in-store product data and image assets that Nielsen has,” said Andrea Vedaldi, Associate Professor of Engineering Science, University of Oxford. “Our collaboration with Nielsen provides us with the breadth of data to leverage the power of deep learning and to drive new innovations in the area, as we continue to work toward advancing neural networks and image understanding.”

For additional information on Nielsen’s technology capabilities, please click here.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit


Oxford University has been placed number 1 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for the third year running, and at the heart of this success is our ground-breaking research and innovation.

Oxford is world-famous for research excellence and home to some of the most talented people from across the globe. Our work helps the lives of millions, solving real-world problems through a huge network of partnerships and collaborations. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of our research sparks imaginative and inventive insights and solutions.


The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford has a substantial research portfolio, including much that is directly supported by industry. In the Department there are no barriers between the different branches of engineering, and we are involved in a great deal of multidisciplinary research collaborating with groups in other departments from Archaeology to Zoology. The Department, founded in 1908, is the only unified department in the UK which offers accredited courses in all the major branches of engineering; it recently became the first UK institution to top the Times Higher Education Engineering and Technology global subject rankings. 

Professor Andrea Vedaldi.

Professor Andrew Zisserman. 



Greg Doonan

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University of Oxford

Julie Meikle