Although there is no single definition of “programmatic TV,” NBCUniversal, Turner and Nielsen each illustrated the practical application of data in the television business.
“It further reinforces the shift to programmatic ad buying in traditional channels,” said Kulkarni. “People are aggregating the ammunition they need to be well positioned over the next couple of years. I think Nielsen felt they needed a horse in the [race], which reinforces the bet other companies are making on programmatic TV.”
On the surface, the eXelate buy represents a marked shift for Nielsen to programmatic, but Nielsen argues it’s always had skin in the game.
“We’ve always allowed clients to segment audiences based on buying behaviors so they can better apply media or, for publishers, more effectively represent audiences,” Andrew Feigenson, managing director for digital at Nielsen, told AdExchanger. “We’ve partnered with eXelate for a while, but this [deal] will allow us to segment audiences in real time and bring that to the programmatic space.”
Feigenson also pointed to Nielsen’s many digital partnerships with publishers and platforms like Google and Facebook, as well as data-sharing agreements with TV audience platforms like Simulmedia and WideOrbit.
Although he said it’s too early to speculate how the eXelate data set will be applied in the context of Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings product, he said the goal is to more tightly knit data sets across digital, mobile and traditional infrastructure.
Unbeknownst to some, Nielsen’s “Buy” business (retail sales data and point-of-sale measurement) grossed more dollars than the “Watch” side of the house (what you traditionally know Nielsen for – its television currency, OCR product and initiatives like social TV ratings) in 2013. "Buy" delivered $3.4 billion while "Watch" brought in $2.3 billion.
“I’ve always thought the real future potential power of Nielsen is to connect these two sides of their business – what people watch with what they buy,” Morgan said. “The future of all advertising – brand, TV, digital – is results-optimized.”