Rentrak, the media measurement company, has been on something of a tear in recent months, establishing new agreements with CBS and Fox television stations and expanding its alliance with Walt Disney’s ABC. Now it is adding heft by purchasing TV-measurement assets from advertising conglomerate WPP.
Rentrak said it would acquire the U.S. television measurement business of WPP’s Kantar business unit for $98 million in Rentrak common stock. As part of the deal, WPP will also purchase shares directly from the company for $56 million in cash, giving WPP a final ownership stake of 16.7% of Rentrak’s stock. WPP may also purchase Rentrak shares on the open market so long as its total ownership of Rentrak stock does not exceed 20%, the companies said. The stock purchase price equates to approximately 1.53 million Rentrak shares, or 12.4% of Rentrak’s total shares outstanding, and is valued at $98 million.
The new combination gives Rentrak more weight in its ongoing efforts to quietly provide an alternative to more established measurement services, mainly those run by Nielsen. Rentrak has played up its ability to marry demographic information with consumer-purchase behavior, rather than simply focusing on the sheer numbers of who may watch a particular show or set of commercials.
With audiences for TV and movies splintered by the rise of so many new opportunities to stream and watch video, advertisers are increasingly looking for more granular information about the audiences they court, largely because the big mass crowds that once attended a major movie release or tuned in to a popular sitcom or drama are harder to bring together.
To lend the new deal some ballast, WPP’s large GroupM media-buying concern GroupM will begin to utilize Rentrak’s national and local TV measurement services in the United States.
GroupM, which manages $105 billion in media billings globally, includes a number of major ad-buying shops, including Mindshare, MEC, and MediaCom, and its clients include Subway, Unilever and American Express. The agency has played a major role in shaping recent policies between TV networks and advertisers, including the establishment of so-called “commercial ratings” in 2007 that form the basis of how TV ad time is bought and sold.
Rentrak expects to add approximately $7 to $9 million in revenue in its fiscal year 2016 as a result of the transaction.