Nielsen Launches New Group Combining Gracenote’s ACR Tech with Ad Delivery Platform (SCN)

Nielsen launched a new technology, product and commercial initiative as part of a deal combining its Gracenote division’s Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology with what it said is “the industry’s first cross-broadcaster, cross-distributor” ad delivery platform to make smart TV “addressability a reality.”

The new Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising Group “will focus on expanding and innovating addressable advertising” for smart TVs “and beyond,” the company said in a news release.

“To further accelerate” the initiative, Nielsen acquired Sorenson Media, an addressable TV technology provider that “will help transform TV from a one-to-many to a one-to-one medium by powering addressable ad delivery and measurement,” Nielsen said.

The acquisition cost Nielsen $11.25 million and closed Feb. 15, Kelly Abcarian, formerly SVP of product leadership at Nielsen and now GM of the new Advanced Video Advertising Group, told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA).

Sorenson Media was based in Salt Lake City, Utah, she said, adding: “We’re not able to go into details on future headcount but a number of Sorenson employees will be joining Nielsen’s new Advanced Video Advertising” initiative.

“The addition of Sorenson Media’s addressable TV ad delivery platform combined with” the ACR technology “positions Nielsen with the technology and industry expertise to help deliver on the promise of addressable TV advertising,” she explained, adding: “With the technology now in place, we will leverage Nielsen’s deep experience in TV measurement to ensure that addressable TV ads are transacted in a way that is transparent and drives the greatest value for the TV industry.”

Smart TVs have “the potential to usher in a gold rush for marketers, programmers” and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Nielsen said.  After all, there are more smart TVs in the market today than ever and more than 250 million are expected in the market by 2023, Nielsen said, citing Statista data. 

Now that there’s so many devices capable of delivering addressable TV ads, the industry must have an “end-to-end,” artificial intelligence (AI)-optimized platform that enables ad delivery, data-driven targeting, automation, real-time optimization, unified campaign management and measurement, Nielsen said, boasting it’s now “uniquely positioned to tie all these elements together at scale.”

“It’s clear that a significant portion of TV advertising will be addressable long into the future,” Nielsen CEO David Kenny said in the announcement, adding: “With the continued evolution of our Total Audience measurement, underpinned by decades of trust, transparency and independence, it was evident that we needed to bring our unique set of technology assets and talent to tackle the greatest challenges the TV advertising industry is facing.  And with the Sorenson Media acquisition, we can create improved value and efficiency across the entire media chain — from ad targeting and delivery to measurement and attribution — and make addressable TV more of a reality.”

Nielsen noted that in the past few years, it’s made several strategic purchases, including Qterics, a smart TV software and privacy management company, that strengthened its technology offerings and “positioned it to thrive in the addressable TV future.”

Now, “integrated into the firmware layer of millions” of smart TVs, Gracenote’s ACR technology “provides the ability for real-time, frame-level ad detection regardless of source or platform,” Nielsen said, adding the purchase of Sorenson Media completes its “go-to-market technology stack with an end-to-end ad delivery solution enabling addressable advertising for TV at scale.”

The company plans to “partner with others in the industry to make addressability a reality,” Abcarian said in the announcement, adding: “Nielsen has the experience and technology to help expand a scalable industry-wide, end-to-end addressable TV advertising solution. And, we can provide a measurement solution that innovates on current approaches with a bridge to the future.”

Noting that it’s “already made significant strides in the advancement of addressable TV” on smart TVs, Nielsen pointed out that, along with the ability to target audiences using smart TV data in the Nielsen Marketing Cloud, it “launched a five market addressable TV pilot across two OEMs late last year with CBS, A+E Networks and several other broadcasters to further understand the real consumer experience and the impact on the broadcast workflow.”

Sorenson’s addressable technology will be added to the next phase of that pilot, “along with additional programmer participation,” Nielsen said.