LiveRamp To Buy TV Analytics Startup Data Plus Math For $150 Million

LiveRamp said Monday it has agreed to acquire the television analytics company Data Plus Math for a cash and stock deal worth $150 million.

It’s a strong exit for Data Plus Math, which has raised $7.5 million over two rounds since 2016, and has about 20 employees.

And the acquisition gives LiveRamp a strong foothold in the fast-moving TV ad tech category, and prepares the business for a new generation of TV advertising currencies.

Most television buyers still use Nielsen ratings and nothing else to measure campaigns. But now there are a “broad spectrum of currencies” available for TV commercials, said Allison Metcalfe, GM of LiveRamp’s TV business.

A measurement becomes a currency when advertisers transact off of it. Nielsen provides the most prominent TV currency, though startup TV analytics companies like Data Plus Math offer alternative ways to plan and measure campaigns.

Data Plus Math isn’t the currency itself, Metcalfe said, but enables video inventory suppliers to sell based on alternative currencies, with guaranteed outcomes like search or site traffic lift, addressable reach or in-store sales.

LiveRamp’s platform has integrated with a growing category of companies like Data Plus Math that connect TV commercials to performance-based metrics, said LiveRamp CEO Scott Howe.

But none of those TV measurement disrupters are “incredibly well established,” Howe said. And he said LiveRamp will aggressively try to lower prices for advanced TV services like attribution and reach and frequency reporting.

Data Plus Math is a third-party attribution company focusing on premium video. It collects exposures from smart TVs, set top boxes and streaming video, anonymizes the data and matches it to different types of outcomes, like website visits, foot traffic or shopping cart data.

Though it has some agency and marketer direct business, most of Data Plus Math’s clients are sell-siders.

The deal also strengthens LiveRamp’s core business in digital media, he said. Adding connected TV IDs to IdentityLink, LiveRamp’s identity graph, has helped it win programmatic display and search business.

After taking over Data Plus Math, LiveRamp will accelerate its buy-side adoption, Metcalfe said. TV networks, broadcasters and OTT companies are already eager to sell on guaranteed outcomes and to partner with data companies that can boost inventory rates, but it’s a tougher lift with advertisers.

Individual programmers like A+E, CBS or NBCUniversal might offer outcome-based sales, but those deals are hard to package together for a big brand with campaigns across many broadcasters and different kinds of TV – including satellite, MVPD, OTT and linear national or local channels. Metcalfe said a neutral intermediary like LiveRamp can bring products to brands and agencies that span those broadcast partners.

“I think what you’ll see is the sell side wants to be flexible and provide options to the buy side,” Metcalfe said. “They’re putting up the dollars and it’s the largest line item on practically every CMO’s budget, so they need to measure and get what they can from that investment.”

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