Rentrak Acquires Branded Entertainment Researcher

Rentrak has acquired iTVX, a research company specializing in branded entertainment, in order to broaden the range of data and analysis it can provide to clients in the advertising business.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ITVX has been a customer of Rentrak, using its second-by-second television ratings as part of its process for pre-campaign planning and post-campaign evaluation of branded-entertainment efforts across multiple platforms.

Branded entertainment is a growing but difficult to measure part of most media buys. 

"Advertisers told us how important branded entertainment is and is becoming," said Bill Livek CEO and vice chairman of Rentrak. "This was the natural next step for Rentrak to acquire iTVX, because we worked so well together over the last couple of years and our clients asked for it."

ITVX is particularly valuable to Rentrak because its clients include automakers Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota, which are big and influential advertisers.

As part of Rentrak, iTVX, which has more than 20,000 branded entertainment reports, will have access to additional information that will help it advise clients on what shows to integrate products into, what time during the show would be most effective and how those integrations will interact with traditional advertising, said Frank Zazza, CEO of iTVX, who will stay on with the company.

Advertisers want to know how branded entertainment "is really affecting the minds and hearts and the behavior of the person who is watching the programming," Zazza said. "I don't think there's another company that has more data than Rentrak to data mine."

Recently an auto client asked iTVX which programs it had to be in to launch a new product.

"We did it overnight for them, so their investment of 10-plus million dollars was very, very well worth it," he said. "This is big data, but it's actionable big data."

In the TV business, Rentrak processes second-by-second viewing data from 25 million television set-top boxes, creating ratings from what it calls a census, as opposed to Nielsen, which creates its ratings mainly from thousands of households that participate in its sample.

Rentrak has been selling its ratings to a growing number of local TV stations. It has also been providing data to advertisers and ad agencies looking for a source of additional, granular information and insights. It has also been adding customers among cable networks. Those networks have also remained Nielsen customers. Livek said he believed adding iTVX to its arsenal will help bring clients.

Livek said he expects Rentrak to co-exist with Nielsen, which dominates the TV research business.

"We are absolutely in a world today where the advertiser uses dual currencies and uses them for different purposes," he said. "Rentrak today is involved in a great amount of planning for the upfront and people use the sample currency to buy age and sex," he added referring to Nielsen. "So, those two currencies work in tandem for the advertiser and the ad agency."

Rentrak is also working on being able to generate traditional demo information from its set top box data.

"That is an ongoing process and we're working on that with our customers, so stay tuned," Livek said.

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.