LiveRamp buys Data Plus Math: 'We have a much stronger story to the global market'

LiveRamp eyes global expansion with Data Plus Math acquisition

LiveRamp is growing its TV footprint with a $150m acquisition of measurement startup Data Plus Math.

This will connect LiveRamp’s identity graph with Data Plus Math’s cross-screen measurement tools and sell-side partners. As the teams unify to offer networks more data-rich outcome-based solutions, the next step is to bring more buy-side partners on board.

One of Data Plus Math’s partners is A&E Networks. For example, A&E will run a campaign using Data Plus Math metrics and present those metrics to an advertiser.

The advertisers can then sign a deal directly with Data Plus Math to pipe their first- and third-party data into its platform, which would give advertisers a view of their campaign performances on TV beyond A&E.

This will now connect with LiveRamp’s Identity Link, the company's cross-channel customer identity graph of advertiser, third-party and TV viewership data. LiveRamp extended its Identity Link into television in March 2018.

Allison Metcalfe, general manager of LiveRamp TV, told The Drum that TV networks are facing problems with accurately measuring true viewership, and advertisers are demanding better ways of measuring the effectiveness of their TV campaigns. She said the deal will help buyers and sellers base campaigns off of whatever metric is important to them.

Peter Olsen, executuive vice-president of ad sales at A&E Networks, echoed that, saying: “Data Plus Math has been instrumental in our efforts to provide marketers with measurement tools that accurately reflect TV’s unmatched power to drive business outcomes.

"This deal will continue to help elevate the groundbreaking, foundational work that Data Plus Math and LiveRamp have already done – as neutral constituents – to bolster cross-screen measurement and outcome attribution for advertisers, agencies and media companies.”

While TV traditionally trades off of reach metrics, commonly from Nielsen and Comscore, Metcalfe said the deal should open up a new set of currencies for a 70-year-old industry.

“In the new world you can say, ‘I'm going to pay you to get this many people to come to my website, or I'm going to pay you based on this sale metric that I care about.’ These are becoming secondary guarantees,” said Metcalfe.

“What the network may offer to the buy-side is both a traditional Nielsen metric, but also a secondary guarantee based on outcomes as well. That's very ground-breaking and new to the industry. The currency hasn't changed for decades. This is a very new, revolutionary idea.”

On a press call, LiveRamp chief executive officer Scott Howe said the company’s new outcome-based solution “allows for much more holistic planning when used in concert with” Nielsen and Comscore. Metcalfe's added that LiveRamp’s new service isn’t meant to directly compete with the two measurement companies.

“We want to offer alternatives and optionality and flexibility to the ecosystem,” said Metcalfe. “We do think that step one is this concept of secondary guarantees is going to be critical.”

Data Plus Math is based in Boston. Its team of around 25 will combine into LiveRamp’s TV unit, which Metcalfe oversees.

Metcalfe said the two companies previously worked together for two years. LiveRamp has been pushing first- or third-party data onto the platform on behalf of clients; the deal eliminates operational hurdles, such as the need for separate contracts.

Other TV solutions seem to be taking note. David Levy, chief executive officer of advanced TV advertising consortium OpenAP, called the deal an encouraging step forward.

“A requirement for growing the market for audience-based buying is campaign measurement that goes beyond reach. We are encouraged by the work Data Plus Math has been doing to go beyond reach and map exposure to business outcomes,” said Levy. “Further cementing a relationship with LiveRamp is an important step that creates more opportunities for marketers to better measure and action outcome data across the consumer journey.”

Global expansion

While LiveRamp may not have eyes on its competitors, it is looking toward international expansion.

“We have been making a lot of inroads to launch LiveRamp TV internationally. Now that we're together, we have a much stronger story to the global market and that's something we're very excited about,” said Metcalfe.

LiveRamp vice-president of strategy and corporate development Neil Fried told The Drum that the acquisition helps the company build out its total addressable market within addressable TV, a space “we have not had a lot of access to” in the past.

Fried said LiveRamp will work toward stitching together its TV data, be it on linear or OTT, and map it into the company’s other addressable channels.

“One of the most strategic components of this deal is the ability to overlay LiveRamp products and services… across the measurement components in those multiple channels,” said Fried.

“[We’re] helping marketers bring first-party data into those channels, helping marketers export that data into their own systems leveraging the LiveRamp Identity Link as the mechanism to do that,” said Fried.

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