With all eyes peeled toward financial questions surrounding one of the largest media researchers -- comScore -- another biggie, Germany’s GfK, reportedly has put itself on the block. According to a report by Germany’s Wirtschafts Woche, both Nielsen and WPP’s Kantar -- the No. 1 and No. 2 media research suppliers -- as well as market researcher IMS Health, are eyeing GfK, which is the parent of Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI), the dominant provider of magazine and other media-planning research data in the U.S. marketplace.
Kantar denied the report, according to a follow-up report by Bloomberg, but shares of GfK’s stock were soaring this morning in European markets based on the speculation that one of the majors might acquire GfK.
GfK’s future adds another dimension to a rapidly-changing media research marketplace, long dominated by Nielsen with fits of market traction by various players, including Kantar and comScore.
comScore, which has had an inexplicable delay in its financial reporting, recently shook up its senior management team, and earlier this week WPP announced it was taking a writedown on its minority stake in the company.
NASDAQ, which trades comScore’s public shares, has given comScore until Monday to comply with its quarterly and annual financial reporting requirements.
Despite its write-down, WPP actually increased its stake in comScore, buying additional shares when they dipped following comScore’s management shakeup on Aug. 11. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, WPP boosted its stake to 19.2% from 18.6% of comScore’s shares.
When WPP announced its investment in comScore in February 2015, it said it would end up owning between 15.0% and 19.9% of comScore.
While it’s difficult to isolate pure-play media measurement services from pure-play marketing research, WPP’s Kantar most likely ranks No. 2 behind Nielsen, with GfK ranking No. 3 and comScore No. 4, according to an MDN analysis of the American Marketing Association’s “Gold Report” of leading marketing research providers.That could change appreciably based on which -- if any -- company ends up acquiring GfK.