Nielsen Snatches Sorenson Assets, Inks NPD Pact


Sorensen Media has cut its teeth by offering technology that “enables the future of television for broadcasters, advertisers, TV manufacturers, and most importantly, the viewers.”

This caught the attention of Nielsen, which had a particular interest in Sorensen’s addressable TV ad platform. As such, it put in a bid for Sorensen, which was founded in 1995 in Utah but by October 2018 was mired in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceeding that turned out to be less favorable than those seen recently by iHeartMedia or Cumulus Media.

On Dec. 23, 2018, Sorensen’s assets were put up for bid by the Bankruptcy Court.

Guess who now owns Sorensen?

The audience measurement giant that also has a new alliance with The NPD Group — a major development for marketers and advertisers.

That would be Nielsen, which won the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court overseeing the liquidation of Sorensen’s assets.

Nielsen paid $11.25 million cash for Sorensen’s components, emerging as the winning bidder.

How bad did Nielsen want Sorensen? It was a stalking horse bidder, which means Nielsen responded to an attempt by bankrupt Sorensen to test the market in advance of an auction. This is generally done to maximize the value of its assets and to avoid low bids.

It worked. Bloomberg reports that the Dec. 23, 2018 bidding procedure approval set the minimum overbid at $3.25 million, after JLS Holdings Inc. noted it would take Sorensen’s assets should no minimum bids surface at a price of $3 million.

Nielsen’s purchase was approved Feb. 13. Now, Nielsen is formally sharing the news by announcing its launch of a new technology, product and commercial initiative dubbed Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising that puts the focus on expanding and innovating all-important addressable advertising for Smart TVs and beyond.

“To further accelerate this initiative,” Nielsen snagged Sorenson.

But, the press release is devoid of just how it did so. Further, it did not note its $11.25 million winning bid — something some investors may frown upon as Nielsen continues its strategic assessments regarding the future of its struggling Buy segment and hiccups in its Watch segment regarding Nielsen Audio measurement.

Instead, it pointed to the leadership of recently appointed CEO David Kenny and how it is “transforming its industry-leading media measurement business and sharpening its focus to help shape the future of addressable TV advertising.”

The addition of Sorenson Media’s addressable TV ad platform, combined with Nielsen’s Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology, acquired through Gracenote, “positions Nielsen with the technology and industry expertise to help deliver on the promise of addressable TV advertising,” the company boasts.

With the Opening Bell on Wall Street on Thursday (2/21), Nielsen was trading at $25.85 — mid-range for a stock that’s held steadily in the mid-$20-$30 range since August 13, 2018.

“It’s clear that a significant portion of TV advertising will be addressable long into the future,” said Kenny. “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.”

The Sorensen news came 24 hours after Nielsen revealed that digital advertising technology company Amobee signed a deal with Nielsen “to power the convergence of TV and digital for brands and agencies in the United States.”

It’s been a busy 24 hours for Nielsen’s PR and communications team.

Thursday also saw the release of details around a new alliance between Nielsen and The NPD Group, a major provider of sales and market information for general merchandise and foodservice that has competed in recent years against the likes of Mintel and Gfk-IRI.

In Nielsen’s view, it’s a partnership “that reimagines the future of omnishopper measurement and marks a key milestone in Nielsen’s measurement of the total consumer.”

Nielsen explains, “For many retailers and manufacturers, gaining visibility into both the total store and the shopping habits of the consumer who fluidly toggles between online and offline shopping is crucial to surviving, thriving and maintaining relevance in today’s fragmented marketplace. To that end, Nielsen and NPD are building a large-scale, comprehensive omnishopper consumer panel, pairing Nielsen’s trusted consumer packaged goods (CPG) measurement with NPD’s authoritative general merchandise consumer measurement to bring insight into today’s emerging omnishoppers, including all shoppers across all channels, and all products across all categories.”

It’s recognition that, in today’s consumption environment, no single panel will meet all measurement needs, Nielsen says.

“The Omnishopper panel will connect to multiple consumer data sources to comprehensively track shopper behavior online and offline across all products and categories. This new approach will follow the consumer across an ever-expanding landscape of digital and physical touchpoints, inclusive of growing brick and mortar and e-tail outlets, and will boost visibility into smaller trip occasions. Additionally, it will increase data granularity by leveraging Nielsen’s and NPD’s deep product reference data and retail market measurement truth sets to deliver accurate omnishopper insights that enable progress.”