Kantar is the umbrella name for an extensive worldwide network of specialist information, research and consultancy agencies owned by marketing giant WPP. The business was expanded dramatically by the hostile takeover in 2008 of larger rival Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). That company was merged with WPP's existing research subsidiaries during 2009 to form the clear global leader in custom research and advertising intelligence, and #2 overall in research behind Nielsen. For 2016, WPP declared combined revenues from what it calls data investment management of $3.6bn. WPP is the only one of the major marketing groups to own a significant market research resource.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: WPP is fighting back against the threat posed by Accenture, Deloitte and other consultancies with the merger of four existing units within its so-called "data investment management" division to form Kantar Consulting. Perhaps the best-known agency to be absorbed into the new entity is Added Value, which is being joined by Kantar Retail - whose leader Phil Smiley becomes CEO of the combined group - Kantar Futures and Kantar Vermeer. The four separate brands will be phased out in favour of a single Kantar Consulting banner. "The main reason for doing this," said Smiley, "is to build a stronger capability within Kantar that can serve clients. We believe that we are the leading specialist sales and marketing consultancy that has real expertise in brand and marketing and retail sales and shopper marketing. There is nothing out there that will be as specialist and can really join the dots between marketing and sales."
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Sept 2015: Shares in media researcher ComScore, in which WPP is now the biggest individual shareholder, plunged by more than a third to their lowest levels for two years. The company postponed publication of its annual report and suspended a $125m planned buyback as a result of what it described as "potential accounting matters". Its audit committee has begun an internal investigation.
Adbrands Weekly Update 30th Sept 2015: Media monitors ComScore and Rentrak - both already part-owned by WPP - are to merge to create a more powerful rival to market leader Nielsen, which has faced criticism recently for its weakness in measuring TV content consumed via digital media. ComScore, which specialises in online media, is to acquire TV monitor Rentrak for around $732m. "We’re at an inflection point of how consumers consume content on TV, on mobile devices, on over-the-top devices," said ComScore CEO Serge Matta. "We need to create a currency for cross-platform at massive scale. The industry is begging, it's pleading for it." WPP will have a 16% stake in the merged business, with an option to increase to just under 20%. Combined sales of the group are around $460m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Feb 2015: WPP expanded its research division through an equity-based alliance with online specialist ComScore. It has agreed to acquire a stake of up to 20%, and the two businesses will work together in markets outside the US to match up Kantar's TV measurement operations with ComScore's digital services. ComScore will remain entirely independent and objective, and WPP will have no presence on its board.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Oct 2014: WPP raised the stakes in the US TV ratings business by joining forces with Rentrak, the upstart research and ratings business that is intent on unseating Nielsen as the gold standard for audience measurement. Rentrak started out as a distributor of VHS cassettes, then moved into sales measurement, first of videos, later of theatrical movie, local TV and most recently of cable and video-on-demand data, accessed from customers' DirecTV, Cox or other set-top boxes. This week, Rentrak agreed to acquire the US audience measurement arm of WPP's Kantar research division in a share-based agreement that also gives WPP a sizeable minority stake in the enlarged business. WPP aims to boost that holding to around 20% though additional share purchases. The two companies will pool resources, including Kantar's adex, digital and consumer insights data, to provide a stronger overall offering to rival Nielsen.
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