Nielsen Picks Up Gracenote for Customer Behavior Insights

Nielsen today announced that it has entered an agreement with the Tribune Media Company to acquire Gracenote, a provider of media and entertainment metadata, for $560 million, in a transaction that is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

The deal will give Nielsen direct access to the data and technology that drives programming guides and tailored user experiences on a range of audio and video media and content, including TV shows, films, music tracks, and broadcasted sports events. It will also give Nielsen the opportunity to deepen its existing client relationships by supplying companies with Gracenote’s global content database, which works to track engagement across a variety of digital platforms and connected devices.

According to Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, the acquisition serves as a big opportunity for Nielsen to beef up its insights business, as "Gracenote is the reference leader for entertainment metadata." To provide some perspective, he notes that Gracenote is considerably bigger than one competitor, IMDB, and holds at least 10 times that company's data. With the added information, Nielsen should be able to apply contextually relevant insights to advertising networks, Wang says.

At the time of purchase, Gracenote holds reference information for more than 12 million movie and television listings and 200 million music tracks. The company's automatic content recognition (ACR) tools have been incorporated into discovery engines that allow television, music, and car companies to personalize each user's experiences with the media. Gracenote's technology powers the user interfaces found in digital media streaming services, cable systems, and in-car infotainment systems.

Nielsen will incorporate Gracenote’s offerings into its Watch Segment, which provides media and advertising companies with audience measurement services on all devices that are used to consume audio, video, and text content, including multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and smart TVs, among others. In doing so, Nielsen will be able to supply firms with the deep analytics that allow them to understand a consumer’s end-to-end engagement with content. One goal of this is to give marketers the ability to better target customers with real-time campaigns that draw on these insights.

Karthik Rao, president of expanded verticals at Nielsen, said in a statement that the acquisition aided Nielsen's "mission" of "understanding consumer behavior":

"Gracenote's metadata and content recognition technology fuels the interfaces of the major video, music, and in-car infotainment systems that consumers engage with every day. This acquisition provides Nielsen with a significant asset in our mission of measuring and understanding consumer behavior."

John Batter, CEO of Gracenote, in a statement noted that the alliance would "expand" his company's "global reach":

"For the past decade, Gracenote has connected millions of people every day to the TV shows, sports, movies and music they love, making entertainment more accessible and discoverable. We are excited for the opportunity to take the next step with Nielsen and expand our global reach by continuing to deliver innovative, insights-based solutions to clients."

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