Nielsen Q2: eXelate Acquisition Already Making Its Mark

NielsneQ2Nielsen’s acquisition in March of data-management platform and exchange eXelate is already proving its value, the measurement company said during its Q2 earnings call Tuesday.

EXelate is part of Nielsen’s marketing effectiveness suite and has been instrumental in securing client buy-in of marketing analytics. Recent wins include Walmart and major consumer packaged-goods companies, said Nielsen CEO Mitch Barns.

“An increasingly programmatic world requires dynamic management of marketing effectiveness and [eXelate] is an incredibly powerful platform that appeals both to our Watch and Buy segments,” he said.

Nielsen’s Watch business – the division focused on developing Total Audience products for advancing ratings – had revenues of $707 million in the second quarter, up 4.7% year over year.

Its Buy business – the division providing performance marketing tools to CPGs and retailers – outpaced Watch slightly at $852 million in revenue for the second quarter.

Although the two businesses operate fairly autonomously, numerous media clients are beginning to augment complementary sales metrics with the traditional Nielsen ratings. It’s a trend toward unifying purchase-based data with age/gender panel-based data.

Nielsen played up its Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) product (formerly Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings), claiming it now clocks more than 1 billion impressions per day, propelled by new client wins like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

“We are now using our DAR metric to measure ads dynamically served to a TV screen,” Barns said, referencing a recent partnership with over-the-top TV provider Roku. “That was one of the groundbreaking parts of the Roku deal – although they cover more than 25% of the OTT market in terms of devices sold, it also allowed us to dynamically serve an ad to any device.”

Some industry watchers have blamed Nielsen for its inability to measure completely across platforms. There’s a lot of opacity, for instance, in over-the-top delivery platforms like Amazon and Netflix, where third-party measurement remains a pipe dream.

Nielsen expects its work with Adobe on Digital Content Ratings, as well as its work to develop a Total Audience measurement product – both expected in their finality by year’s end – to mitigate some of those concerns.

“We remain on track for a full fall launch of Digital Content Ratings with dozens of clients participating in our advisory board, eight [of which] are beta testing the product,” Barns said. “Digital Ad Ratings is sort of out there by itself now, but once DCR is alongside it in the marketplace, our competitive strength of DAR will only improve.”

Analysts peppered Nielsen executives with questions about data flow, especially as mobile and video pick up. Barns said mobile is a critical part of its Total Audience product, but that video on demand is gaining about two to three times more viewership for content consumed outside of a traditional TV environment.

Another point of interest was the shift toward subscription-based streaming and video-on-demand services, in which some – like Hulu – are considering ad-free models.

The growth of content bundles may ignite downward pressure on the subscription side of the business, since there are inherently more choices, but Barns says he sees opportunity for ad-funded businesses.

“The advertising side of the model has a bright future,” he said. “There’s more data, technology … and advertising can be delivered with greater precision than ever before. I think this will only drive up the value of advertising. Money spent elsewhere in the marketing budget will be spent on advertising.”

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