Viacom Inks Multi-Year Deal for comScore/Rentrak Digital Data

Ever since comScore acquired Rentrak, the merged companies have posed competition to ratings giant Nielsen. Now, the merged digital measurement firm has signed a multi-year deal with Viacom to help the media giant more accurately target specific demographics across its linear TV, digital, mobile and over-the-top channels including MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. Viacom offers Vantage as a data-targeting service to advertisers who want to reach “new parents looking for diapers” and other more granular targets.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Viacom, with its youth-oriented networks, has been particularly impacted by “teen eyeballs drifting from TV screens to mobile apps.”

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Adding Rentrak’s set-top box data to comScore’s digital measurements will “help Viacom run predictive models to show which ad units are best for a specific advertiser to reach its desired consumers,” said Viacom data strategy executive Bryson Gordon. Prior to the merger, Viacom had separate contracts with comScore and Rentrak.

“The whole basis for the merger was exactly this,” explained comScore chief executive Serge Matta. “Creating advanced currency to measure everything at scale in a granular fashion and bringing it with speed to the market. The plan is to go and strike similar deals with multiple broadcasters and agencies. You’ve got to start somewhere. This was the first.”

WSJ adds that, “industry players say the merger may pose a tangible threat to Nielsen, the longtime industry leader in measuring the media business,” especially as the industry prepares for the annual upfronts, during which networks will present their upcoming programming to advertisers, and as concerns about “dwindling pay-TV subscribers and flagging TV ratings has intensified the race.”

Viacom has long complained that Nielsen has been “too slow to bring a ‘cross-platform’ service to the market,” although, notes WSJ, even Viacom uses Nielsen data at times with its Vantage product.

For its part, Nielsen now does have a cross-platform measurement service, Total Audience Measurement, which it plans to syndicate to the wider market by Q2 or Q3 2016. “We’re always open to competition,” said Nielsen executive Megan Clarken. “Where we see the most competition is in the analytics space. There is a fundamental difference between that and providing a currency service for the market.”