Nielsen has acquired data management player Exelate. The deal price was approximately $200 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In an interview with the Journal, Nielsen president Steve Hasker indicated his company anticipates TV ad sales moving towards a more automated future.
While programmatic ad-buying at the moment is largely a feature of the online advertising world, Mr. Hasker said he wants Nielsen to be ready if and when it moves into the $70-billion U.S. television advertising market.
"If and when" TV gets there, the digitally-focused Exelate can help Nielsen maintain its data dominance in such a world. Television ads today are still largely brought on a reach and frequency basis, which is why Nielsen's ratings and research matter to brands trying to gauge the impact of their ads.
But if TV ads begin selling in a manner that more closely resembles digital, where ads can be served to individuals based on their interests, then Nielsen would face a major challenge to its core business.
Programmatic advertising was one of the three emerging areas the company said it was looking to tackle in a December interview with Ad Age, along with wearables and in-car viewing.
Within the ad industry, it's widely believed that automated TV buying is at least a year or two away from reaching a meaningful level of activity.