ISpot.tv is getting a $325 million investment from Goldman Sachs, which appears to be record single-round financing for a Nielsen challenger amid growing investor interest in the audience measurement business.
The investment gives iSpot—which previously had raised $58 million in investment since its founding in April 2012—a major capital infusion to invest in technology and acquisitions as it looks to stake its claim as an alternative to Nielsen as a measurement currency for writing TV deals.
“The short of it is, we’re going to go harder,” iSpot.tv CEO Sean Muller said in an interview. “We’re going to invest harder into new products and capabilities, into hiring and potentially some additional M&A.”
ISpot might be getting the biggest recent investment yet in alternative measurement players, but it’s far from alone. EDO, an audience measurement startup co-founded by actor Edward Norton, announced an $80 million venture investment earlier this month. Publicly held Innovid announced a $160 million acquisition of TV Squared in February. And Nielsen rival VideoAmp brought in a $275 million funding round in October.
Investor interest in audience measurement contrasts with the rest of the tech sector, where the Nasdaq-100 is down 21% year to date, falling about twice as fast as the broader S&P 500 index. And many startups, particularly in the direct-to-consumer space, are pulling back on marketing spending and looking for other ways to conserve cash amid concerns that venture capital is getting scarce, said Lindsey Slaby, CEO of consulting firm Sunday Dinner. The Information reported last week that six tech startups alone laid off approximately 2,000 employees in the past month.
So why are things different in audience measurement?
“You’re talking about an industry that’s undergoing massive disruption,” Muller said. “When you step back and think about it, how many industries have a pure monopoly? You probably can’t think of too many. My guess would be we’re going from a world that wasn’t meant to be a monopoly to one where there are going to be multiple players, and because of that disruption, I think there’s a lot of appetite from investors to put dollars to work to capture the opportunity.”