Following Nielsen's announcement Wednesday that it is acquiring data management platform (DMP) eXelate, industry reaction was mixed. Opinions ranged from it being a smart, proactive hedge by the TV industry's currency researcher, to a formal recognition that data-based audience targeting is the future coin of a programmatic media-buying realm.
As one commenter, DragonSearch's Henry Blaufox, posted on Wednesday’s Real-Time Daily: “This speaks volumes about the direction of broadcast media planning and buying.”
Real-Time Daily caught up with several others in the ad industry to gather their thoughts on the deal.
Brad Adgate, SVP/corporate research director of Horizon Media, said: "The company continues to expand into other areas with acquisitions and partnerships; this is just the latest example of this strategy. You can’t read an article these days without a reference to programmatic buying, and with the all this interest, Nielsen may feel this is a revenue opportunity. What makes it unusual is Nielsen’s role in the TV and digital industry."
A longtime TV researcher said: “Multiplatform media companies, and advertisers need a place that can look at media placement from both traditional and programmatic and this puts Nielsen at the center of that. Who else is even close? It also bring some very smart experienced analytics folks to Nielsen where they will work with Nielsen traditional metrics to create a stronger product rather than try to build around them.
Programmatic is challenged because it is device-driven, not person-based, has viewability problems and massive issues with fraud. Traditional sample-based metrics are challenged by the granularity required for smaller targets and product purchase targets. Having both strikes me as very powerful.”
Evan Hanlon, VP of strategy and investment at Xaxis Americas, said: “This deal feels like a long time coming. It especially makes sense considering the Oracle-DataLogix pickup in conjunction with the longstanding Nielsen-eXelate relationship.
Both companies have really focused on leveraging their respective data offerings as the new currencies in the age of audience buying, so it will be interesting to see how those offerings compliment and compete in a consolidated marketplace.”
Scott Knoll, CEO of Integral Ad Science, a partner of Nielsen’s, commented: "I think that eXelate is a strong company, and I think highly of Nielsen, so I think it’s a good combination. Nielsen has incredible strengths in traditional media, and I think this signals that they are getting more aggressive in digital media. And I applaud the move because I think it’s good for the industry for Nielsen to take a big role in digital."
One industry expert commented: “[Nielsen is] in a race with comScore to see who can be the first to provide the ‘total’ audience reach. They both want to be the standard cross-screen measurement firm. comScore has to get TV data (hence Kantar) and Nielsen has to bolster digital (hence eXelate).
There is no ‘boundary’ anymore -- consumers don't think about what screen they're looking at, they just watch video. Marketers will (eventually; kicking and screaming; whether they like it or not) come around to that, and whoever can provide the measurement used as currency stands to make a lot of money.
Lauren Fisher, analyst at eMarketer, believes the acquisitions serves as “added evidence of the fact that in advertising in general, not just digital, we are moving toward a universe where we are looking to bridge the traditional-digital gap.
On the programmatic front, [this is] added fuel behind the fact that companies increasingly want to bring in non-cookie based data -- especially any offline data they can get -- to inform decisions.
The other major impression I have on this: At the onset, it definitely seems like a benefit for Nielsen being able to bring this data into eXelate in the digital space. But [I think it’s also] just as much about taking that rich, digital data and eventually bring it back into traditional media.”
Eric Porres, CMO at Rocket Fuel, an ad tech firm that uses Nielsen OCR data, commented: “To the extent that Nielsen remains true to its measurement roots, adding eXelate’s data segmentation capabilities should be welcomed by Nielsen customers and to the industry at large, that for a long time has questioned the veracity of third-party data.
At Rocket Fuel, we consistently advise our customers to ingest and use all data available to make smarter marketing decisions vs. relying on discrete a priori segments given their inherent lack of scale, and we hope that Nielsen can lead the charge on data verification and accuracy.”
Seth Ulinski, senior analyst of digital at Technology Business Research, noted: “This is yet another acquisition of an ad tech vendor by a company that operates in an established, adjacent market.
The list of acquirers spans enterprise software vendors (e.g. Oracle, SAP), data specialists (e.g. Acxiom, Alliance Data), media measurement companies (e.g. Nielsen, comScore), and agency holding companies (e.g. Publicis).
These established segments are making sizable ad tech investments given the global reach and wealth of data it provides, particularly audience engagement and data management. Ad tech previously operated in a silo, today it is being leveraged as a tool for business transformation.
Yosha Ulrich-Sturmat, VP of Product Marketing at Neustar, said: “Similar to Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai and DataLogix, Nielsen’s move to acquire eXelate only validates the strategy we have been executing against over the past couple of years, which also led to our acquisitions of TargusInfo and Aggregate Knowledge.
This move also underscores that Nielsen’s panel-based approach is not sufficient to deliver the granular insights brands are accustomed to in the digital world. Nielsen is now entering the cookie space, before they were just focused on a panel-based measuring approach.
The deal makes sense for Nielsen, however, eXelate does not have the offline identity component and it will take some time to stitch the solutions together. Nielsen has taken the step to move from linear TV to addressable TV."
Alex Hood, VP of product at TubeMogul, a video ad tech firm that uses Nielsen OCR data, said: “This makes total sense and is a great deal for Nielsen and eXelate. When we’re out talking to clients, they talk about the challenges of cross-screen measurement. Given Nielsen’s position as the standard-bearer in the TV measurement, this deal gives brands and agencies the data and measurement tools to approach advertising across digital and TV."