Nielsen Acquires DMP eXelate, Enters Programmatic Audience-Buying Marketplace

In a move that sends a powerful signal about the future of data-based audience targeting, Nielsen this morning announced a deal to acquire eXelate, a leading data management platform (DMP) used by the digital programmatic media-buying marketplace.

Terms were not disclosed, although the Wall Street Journal reports the price to be in the $200 million range. The move follows acquisitions by other big DMPs in the past couple of years, principally, Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai last year, and Neustar’s acquisition of Aggregate Knowledge two years ago. Oracle paid a reported $400 million for its DMP (BlueKai), and Neustar paid a reported $119 million. Rocket Fuel also acquired [x+1] -- a DSP/DMP hybrid -- for approximately $230 million last summer.

“This acquisition allows Nielsen to enable its clients to make better and faster marketing and media decisions,” Nielsen said in a statement announcing the deal, adding that the deal gives it the ability to “activate in real-time Nielsen audience insights as well as eXelate’s aggregated consumer segments from over 200 data providers.”

The deal has huge implications for integrating audience-based programmatic digital media-buying logic into the company that still represents the purest play currency for traditional media-buying (TV ratings), and which has been tentacling into digital via its Online Campaign Ratings and various cross-platform offerings. It's old school audience measurement (Nielsen is nearing its 100th anniversary) meets new age data management and targeting (eXelate was founded in 2007).

It’s also a significant hedge for Nielsen should data-based targeting someday usurp sample-based measurement planning and buying. In any event, it's reaffirmation that DMPs will be an integral part of the future of audience targeting and buying. And the parts of the digital ad ecosystem Nielsen has been seeping into via its cross-platform offerings figure to be aided by a DMP, which boast the promise of helping marketers connect to the same audience across multiple screens.

"Very smart move for Nielsen. It gives them a strong DMP that they already work with and a great data engineering team to help them link the Watch part of their business with the Buy side of their business, which would make them the leading player in the 'results optimized' media world that is emerging," a programmatic marketplace veteran said. "It would also make them much more valuable -- and help them drive more revenues -- from both their Watch customers and Buy customers. The deal says that they're not ceding the future of data-driven, results-oriented marketing and media to Oracle or Adobe."

“This acquisition creates a tremendous opportunity for Nielsen in the programmatic media ecosystem,” stated Steve Hasker, global president of Nielsen. “Adding eXelate’s solutions to the Nielsen family furthers our ability to help marketers improve the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns and to help media companies better sell their content.”

6 comments about "Nielsen Acquires DMP eXelate, Enters Programmatic Audience-Buying Marketplace".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, March 4, 2015 at 1:40 p.m.

    This speaks volumes about the direction of broadcast media planning and buying.

  2. Seth Ulinski from Independent Analyst and Consultant, March 4, 2015 at 2:54 p.m.

    A couple notes: few major players remain in the stand-alone DMP segment (e.g. Krux, Lotame). This is yet another acquisition of an ad tech vendor by a company that operates in an adjacent market.

  3. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 5:51 p.m.

    More focus on the core business ... Just making money?
    No statistical, panel or survey research necessary going "forward."

  4. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, March 4, 2015 at 5:57 p.m.

    Big Ben is not a clock, but a bell.
    Nielsen is not a research company, but an ATM.

  5. Tom Denford from ID Comms Inc, March 5, 2015 at 8:31 a.m.

    Really interesting move, to Henry's point, this does speak volumes about the lack of trust in media agencies to manage the programmatic supply chain. Instead, marketers might feel more trusting of their research / data specialist to better manage the automated and optimized media buying process in future? Perhaps this is within Nielsen's hypothesis and thus this investment.

  6. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 5, 2015 at 10:28 a.m.

    Henry, this has little or nothing to do with the future direction of media planning as it involves broadcast TV, or, for that matter cable and syndication and, Tom, I doubt that Nielsen is contemplating the idea of becoming involved in an automated TV time buying service, in competition with the ad agencies. I also doubt that Nielsen is planning a digital buying service.

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