In the first few months of 2022 there have been a flurry of acquisitions and partnerships among several Nielsen NLSN rivals. These agreements come at a time when programmers and advertisers have been actively conducting pilot tests to evaluate the capabilities of various ad tech and audience measurement providers heading into the 2022-23 ad buying season.
Innovid acquires TVSquared: In early February Innovid announced the acquisition of TVSquared for a reported $160 million. Seeking an alternative to Nielsen, both ad tech companies responded to NBCUs wide ranging RFP seeking improved and transparent video measurement solutions. Innovid’s core business is streaming video and TVSquared focuses on TV attribution models. With the core business of the two companies different, it is expected the acquisition will enable the company to provide a fuller picture of the video landscape with streaming and linear television and include business outcomes from advertising schedules.
Tal Chalozin, Co-Founder and CTO, Innovid notes, “As converged TV spend continues to climb, the market is rightfully looking for independent measurement alternatives to safeguard investments and ensure campaign confidence. With the TVSquared acquisition, we are advancing a cross-platform solution that addresses those needs. The combination of Innovid and TVSquared maps one of the largest datasets of audiences, homes and devices – at scale – across TV, CTV and digital video.”
Jo Kinsella, President of TVSquared at Innovid adds, “This acquisition is truly bringing TV and digital together, establishing an immense global scale and breaking through walled gardens. Innovid’s independent ad serving footprint, combined with TVSquared’s independent measurement and attribution platform, provide the scale and technology needed for marketers to reach the right audiences across linear, CTV and digital.”
iSpot.TV acquires Tunity: In early March iSpot.TV another audience measurement company and Nielsen rival acquired Tunity. Tunity is an ad tech company that specializes in measuring the live audio (including muting) nationwide in such out-of-home venues as restaurants, bars, gyms, offices, waiting rooms, airports and hospitals. Tunity relies on a mobile app that picks up live audio from video programs.
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“The existing ratings models have proven to woefully misrepresent viewership in public spaces, which has an impact on the business models for the buy and sell side,” said iSpot CEO Sean Muller in a statement. “iSpot’s acquisition of Tunity will enable us to meet a massive demand in the marketplace with a more unified, independent measurement system that tracks audience consumption of ads and programming on a second-by-second basis, across platforms and viewing experiences.” This is iSpot.TVs third acquisition, over the past 14 months. Last year they acquired DRMetrix and Ace Metrix, both companies measure TV ads.
In the fall of 2020 Nielsen began adding out-of-home viewing to their TV ratings using a PPM device which was being used primarily to measure radio/audio listening. In December 2021, Nielsen reported a software glitch that resulted in undercounting viewers since September 2020. The VAB claimed the malfunction resulted in a loss of $700 million in ad revenue, which Nielsen and the MRC disputes. By and large, sports and news programming are the two genres that will see any sizable out-of-home ratings boost.
Several key personnel from Tunity will be joining iSpot.TV. This includes Paul Lindstrom, the Head of Research and Analytics. Lindstrom, a long-time Nielsen executive says, “Tunity is a game changer for the measurement of OOH TV as it is the only company that identifies what people are watching OOH through video rather than what they can hear by measuring audio. When Tunity was a stand-alone company, clients wanted to see the data incorporated into a holistic approach to the measurement of video across platforms. The combination of iSpot and Tunity ups the value of both. iSpot gains a competitive advantage as it reports on a previously unmeasured share of the Video audience and Tunity OOH data can be looked at holistically in the broader context of all digital and linear TV.”
iSpot.TV has been pilot testing their cross-platform audience measurement capabilities with WarnerMedia as well as NBCU and Publicis. Using Tunity as a source, iSpot.TV reported that Super Bowl LVI averaged 12.5 million viewers.
VideoAmp partnership with Comcast & Discovery CCZ : In February Nielsen rival VideoAmp, struck a licensing agreement with Comcast. Under the agreement, VideoAmp will have access to audience data from Comcast’s return path data (RPD) and Smart TVs. The addition of Comcast, which currently has 18.5 million video subscribers, will provide greater stability and reliability to the cross-platform measurement capabilities of VideoAmp.
Last October VideoAmp renewed their licensing agreement with Vizio, a Smart TV manufacturer. VideoAmp also has licensing agreements with RPD from The DISH Network DISH , TiVo and Frontier Communications FTR . The addition of Comcast, (which had previously licensed their RPD to Nielsen and Comscore SCOR ) gives VideoAmp access to 63 million devices to measure TV audiences.
Also, in February Discovery and ad agency Omnicom announced they would be administering a pilot test using audience data from VideoAmp (and Comscore). This is the latest announced partnership that programmers and agencies have had with Nielsen rivals heading. Previously, VideoAmp announced an ad currency test with several prominent agency holding companies. In addition, Paramount announced it will be using VideoAmp to sell and guarantee ad deals with their hyper-targeted and advanced advertising platform Vantage.
“’VideoAmp is laser focused on increasing the value of advertising by redefining how media is valued, bought and sold” said Michael Parkes, President, VideoAmp. “We continue to drive adoption of our currency solution in collaboration with advertisers, agencies and media owners. Our recent announcement with Comcast proves our commitment to providing best-in-class data. Discovery and OMG announcing their partnership with VideoAmp shows the market is ready for this change. We are unlocking new value for those that currently transact on measurement metrics that are completely disconnected to how they value their media. This is where the destruction of value is taking place. Providing a currency solution that enables transactions on advanced audience reach and frequency and attribution brings the media value metrics closer to the transaction, creating efficiencies for the entire industry–something it desperately needs and only VideoAmp can provide,” he added.
Samba TV partnership with Disney: More recently, Disney announced they are increasing their cross-platform measurement capabilities with Samba TV. Disney will have access to Samba’s cross-platform reach and frequency tool to share and evaluate with the advertising community. Samba uses a proprietary technology embedded in 24 million Smart TVs and has access to audience data from 46 million devices.
Ashwin Navin, Co-founder & CEO, Samba TV says. “Marketers are struggling with a fragmented TV market, and Samba TV has been providing cross-channel, deduplicated reach and frequency (and other outcome-based) measurement to marketing, agency and publisher clients for years. This week’s announcement is a game changer for marketers and is about Disney and Samba TV working together as currency measurement partners in a first-of-a-kind deal that solves marketers’ pain points by making it easy to understand true reach and frequency across all Disney inventory and on all Disney platforms.”
In addition, Disney has also been working with Comscore and Nielsen in several audience measurement tests and collaborating with ad agencies Omnicom and Publicis. While Disney owns ABC and several top-tier cable networks, they report that 40% of their ads are now watched on streaming platforms such as Hulu and ESPN+. That percentage will be growing in the years ahead.
The audience measurement companies that were a part of the NBCU RFP are not only competing to replace Nielsen, they are also competing with each other. Programmers and advertisers have been conducting pilot studies to evaluate the capabilities. Among the criteria being evaluated are cross-platform audience measurement, multimedia attribution, business outcomes, deduplication capabilities, demographics and co-viewing measurement and the status of MRC accreditation among others. As a result, further acquisitions, partnerships, ramping up their deliverables and sharing resources can be anticipated.