WPP Buys a Stake in Rentrak to Sync Up TV Data with Kantar

Agency Giant Gets a 16.7% Stake in Rentrak

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WPP CEO Martin Sorrell.
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell. Credit: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Agency giant WPP has acquired a stake in research company Rentrak to sync up Rentrak's TV measurement assets with its own data and media buying groups Kantar and GroupM.

WPP will integrate its consumer data, including Kantar's U.S. digital media and purchase data, with "volumes of TV information" and measurement technology from Rentrak, WPP said in a statement.

Rentrak tracks video-on-demand viewing on over 120 million TVs in 210 markets.

Under the terms of the agreement, WPP will inject Kantar Media's U.S. TV measurement and data business into Rentrak in exchange for $98 million of Rentrak common stock, according to the company's statement. WPP will also buy shares directly from the company for $56 million in cash, giving WPP a total ownership stake of 16.7% of Rentrak. The transaction, subject to customary regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The latest deal emphasizes the race to create a consistent way to target and measure TV viewing habits at the household and individual levels as brands buy across platforms, including TV, online video and mobile.

It's unclear what this means for Rentrak's relationships with other media agencies. IPG Mediabrands, part of WPP rival Interpublic Group, earlier this year announced a deal in which it tapped Experian Marketing Services to build a system combining TV data from Rentrak and mobile web browsing data from ComScore.

Prior to the announcement of Nielsen's acquisition of Arbitron in late 2012, Rentrak had been in talks with Arbitron about working jointly on cross-platform measurement, according to people familiar with the matter. Rentrak, Arbitron and Nielsen executives and spokespeople declined to comment on that. The subsequent approval by the Federal Trade Commission of that deal, with the requirement that ComScore be permitted to continue using Arbitron's Portable People Meter panel and technology for cross-platform measurement, makes it hard for Rentrak to get in on that area unless through Nielsen or ComScore.

Contributing: Jack Neff

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