Advocado Buys Kantar Ad Verification Unit, Creating Data, Attribution Platform

Brian Handrigan Advocado Kantar
Brian Handrigan (Image credit: Advocado)

Advocado, which started out retargeting viewers of TV commercials with digital ads, acquired Kantar BVS, Kantar’s ad verification unit, creating a first-party data management and attribution platform at a time when the ad industry is looking for alternatives to Nielsen.


Financial terms were not disclosed and the Kantar deal comes a week after Advocado acquired the VEIL watermarking technology and 46 other patents from the family of long-time St. Louis broadcaster Ted Koplar.

“What we have now is a centralized, first-party data and attribution platform that ‘s bigger than just broadcast television,” Brian Handrigan, co-founder and CEO of Advocado told Broadcasting+Cable.

He said advertisers will be able to get an independent assessment of campaign performance across broadcast TV, radio and digital platforms including CTV.

Also: Ad Industry Seeks Alternatives After Nielsen Loses Seal of Approval

At a time when the TV industry is looking for better measurement and Nielsen is under pressure, Handrigan said Advocado is ready to take on the big players in the field.

“Nielsen is squarely in our sights,” he said.

Handrigan noted that Nielsen last week announced plans to change the way it measures audiences for commercials, switching from C3 and average commercial minutes within a program to measuring impressions for individual ads.

“It's like the the old guy who buys a Lamborghini so they can look like they're cool, Handrigan said. “I think the writing's on the wall. We need new answers.”

Advocado was not one of the companies that replied to NBCUniversal's request for proposals seeking better ways to measure TV audiences and advertising effectiveness. But Kantar BVS was part of proposals in the audience verification, brand measurement, and multi-touch attribution categories. Now, by changing a logo or two, Advocado is part of the NBCU process, Handrigan said.

Many of the new approaches to audience measurement and attribution involve using big data from set-top boxes and smart TVs.

Advocado worked with VEIL and Kantar to identify television ads.

Handrigan said tagging ads using VEIL technology to track who is watching is less intrusive than using the automated content recognition data that comes from consumer smart TVs. “People are going to start wondering why my TV set is selling my viewing data,” he said. (Nielsen uses a different ad-tagging system to capture commercial viewing data).

Kantar’s ad verification was an important part of Advocado’s product and Advocado decided that it would be logical to bring that capability in house, Handrigan said.

“What Kantar BVS does is really integral in terms of the quality of the data,” he said. “It’s one thing to count other people’s data. It’s great to have a first-part data source you can control. There a lot of learnings, a lot of insights, a lot of customers we can now work with.”

Advocado sent an unsolicited offer for the unit to Pete Rumpel, executive VP of Kantar Media, North America. “It wasn’t on the market and they, appropriately, kind of laughed at us,” Handrigan recalled.

Eventually conversations were had and Kantar was convinced Advocado was serious. “We’re not disclosing the price, but it was enough to get him [Rumpel] to stop laughing,” Handrigan said.

Handrigan said the seven people who worked at Kantar BVS are all coming to work at Advocado and that the unit will continue to be headed by VP Rich Radzik.

“Through this partnership, we will continue to grow the most accurate and reliable solution that our clients have depended on for the last 33 years. With Advocado’s digital and technical expertise we will be able to launch new innovations that will further drive growth for our client partners,” Radzik said.

Some Avocado clients have already switched to BVS for ad verification, Handrigan said. At the same time there are BVS ad verification clients now looking at Advocado’s capabilities.

“Our existing customers will benefit from network, media and platform expansion as well as ongoing cross organization innovation,” said Rumpel. “Accurate, credible and independent verification is a key concern for our clients. Advocado’s expanded offering delivers that.”

As part of the deal, Advocado and Kantar will continue to work together to explore new offerings based on the data and analytical capabilities both bring to the table.

“This deal actually includes incentives for us to work together,” Handrigan said. “The initial response has been really positive because together, it's a richer offering for customers.”

Handrigan added that the Advocado platform will let advertisers have the data about their campaigns.

Google used to provide real data he said. Now it just provides models, he said.

“We think that’s really a shame. Advertisers are spending the money to create the response. They should own the data. And so our platform empowers them to actually have that granular data," he said.

By the same token, Handrigan noted that a lot of the parties providing attribution are the ones also in the advertising sales business.

“We don't do any media planning, we don't sell any creative. We're not an agency,” Handrigan said. “Let’s make sure there's data without an agenda and a platform that you guys control that’s consumer privacy compliant. At the end of the day, that’s what we're building and we think this BVS acquisition gets us up the ladder.” ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.