Nielsen Acquires Data Platform eXelate For Estimated $200 Million

NielsenNielsen has acquired data-management technology platform and exchange eXelate, the companies announced Wednesday. The deal is a major foray into the programmatic arena for TV-centric researcher Nielsen, which has been looking for ways to accelerate its digital audience intelligence.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but AdExchanger sources estimated the transaction price at close to $200 million.

"This acquisition creates tremendous opportunity for Nielsen in the programmatic media ecosystem," said Steve Hasker, Nielsen's global president, in a statement announcing the deal. "Adding eXelate's solutions to the Nielsen family furthers our ability to help marketers improve the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns and to help media companies better sell their content."

With the acquisition Nielsen gets capabilities outside its historical remit of measuring audiences for TV planning and buying purposes. EXelate provides its publisher and advertiser customers with audience segmentation tools and can help them monetize that audience data through exchange platforms.

In short, the acquisition brings Nielsen much closer to the transactional side of the media ecosystem and revises its role as a purely panel-based research play. Ironically, while comScore has been steadily pushing into TV and cross-platform video measurement, Nielsen's dialing it back to digital audience insights, comScore's historic sweet spot.

Nielsen said in today's announcement it "intends to further develop and expand eXelate’s already rapidly growing data marketplace and innovative technology solutions."

New York-based eXelate was founded in Israel in 2007 and has raised a total of $32 million, according to CrunchBase. Its sale to Nielsen continues a streak of M&A around data solutions companies that began nearly two years ago when Neustar snapped up Aggregate Knowledge for about $119 million.

Since then, Oracle acquired eXelate competitor BlueKai ($350 million to $400 million) in February 2014, Acxiom bought onboarder LiveRamp ($310 million) in May and Oracle grabbed Datalogix in December, to name a few deals.

Prior to its sale to Nielsen, eXelate was one of the last big standalone data-management platforms (DMPs), alongside Krux and Lotame.

The deal comes less than two months after eXelate launched what the company described as a Customer Data Cloud, a deterministic platform that essentially unified its DMP and exchange with a common set of IDs across devices like tablets, smartphones and connected TVs.

As AdExchanger previously reported,  Nielsen was in the running to buy offline-to-online data company Datalogix but was outbid by Oracle, which acquired Datalogix in December. Hasker notably said, prior to the acquisition, that the company was "looking to get into the offline/online data and attribution business in a big way."

Nielsen and eXelate were early partners, and the TV ratings company used eXelate's DMP to power Nielsen Online Audience Segments-TV Viewing in 2012, a cross-platform product designed to help online advertisers target TV viewers.

Dave Morgan, CEO of TV audience activation platform Simulmedia, described the deal as a "great fit," and added that Nielsen gets "a great data engineering group for future work." EXelate may provide Nielsen the connector it needs to better bridge its "Watch" and its "Buy" businesses. "Watch" is Nielsen's total audience measurement business, including video, audio and text.

The "Buy" side primarily serves up performance-measurement solutions to consumer packaged goods companies and retailers. By integrating its "Watch" and "Buy" segments with eXelate's aggregated set of segments from 200 data sources, Nielsen's third-party data sets get smarter.

"Nielsen is no doubt worried about the future of TV measurement and [they're] having trouble replacing that with a comparable digital measurement product revenue stream," commented Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner.

EXelate is one path it's taking to get there.

More in the press release. Story developing. 

Zach Rodgers contributed. 

 

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