Nielsen Acquires Artificial Intelligence-Powered Sports Marketing Startup vBrand

Nielsen (No. 32 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) announced it has acquired vBrand, an Israel-based technology startup that has developed a machine learning-enabled platform to measure brand exposure and impact in sports programming. vBrand and its technology will be fully integrated into Nielsen Sports, bringing increased delivery speed and scale to the company’s existing flagship sports products, Sport24 and Social24. Financial terms were not disclosed.


The acquisition of vBrand’s advanced technology supercharges Nielsen Sports’ already industry-leading sponsorship measurement capabilities and methodologies, considered among the most robust in sports. vBrand’s machine learning will significantly accelerate the speed at which Nielsen Sports’ logo recognition and media monitoring technologies locate and calculate brand positions on screen. Specifically, the vBrand technology could allow brands and rights holders to monitor and track sponsorship visibility within hours of an event and make adjustments to digital signage and social campaigns within a tournament, competition weekend or season.

Sports marketing is increasingly important for brands looking to reach consumers in a competitive and fragmented marketplace. With fans reliably tuning in to watch their favorite leagues, teams and athletes, global sports and entertainment sponsorship spend is projected to exceed $60 billion in 2017 alone. Nielsen Sports’ flagship marketing solutions already measure millions of hours of content per year, helping to deliver analytics and insights to more than 1,700 of the top rights holders, brands, agencies and broadcasters.

“This is an exciting acquisition that demonstrates our continued ambition and commitment to our sports clients,” said Howard Appelbaum, President, Nielsen Entertainment. “Bringing vBrand’s technology into Nielsen Sports’ existing sponsorship valuation process will further expand the scale of programming and events it covers around the world. It will also provide timely exposure information, enabling clients to make smarter and faster decisions on sponsorship placement. Nielsen Sports’ brand exposure data and metrics are considered currency in the global sports marketplace, and we’re delighted to strengthen that further with this acquisition.”

“The acquisition of vBrand by Nielsen is a great opportunity to continue our journey and take our offering to the next level,” said Yael Dor, CEO, vBrand. “We are confident that our cutting-edge technology, combined with Nielsen’s platform, will extend its leadership position in the market by providing sports marketers with transparency and clarity on sports sponsorship investments.”

“We are excited to be a part of Nielsen and empower its sports analytics business with our unique technology of video analytics and deep learning,” added Tamir Rubinsky, Co-Founder & CTO, vBrand.

The accelerated growth of vBrand is driven in part by the design partnerships the company has built as an alumnus of the 2016 class of ‘The Bridge’ Program, a partnership between Coca-Cola, Turner and Mercedes-Benz that is focused on finding leading technologies and creating commercialization opportunities with the three brands.

The Nielsen acquisition is the latest milestone in an already well-established relationship between the two companies, as the Tel Aviv-based vBrand is a graduate of Nielsen Innovate—Nielsen’s early-stage technology incubator licensed by the Israel Innovation Authority (previously known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of Israel).

“Using a slightly different approach to most incubators, Nielsen Innovate mentors and shepherds the companies they back, in addition to providing an investment, with a goal of helping early-stage startups become successful, scalable global businesses,” said Dov Yarkoni, CEO, Nielsen Innovates.

Since its foundation in 2013, Nielsen Innovate has funded 18 new companies, many of which have already piloted or sold their solutions to some of Nielsen’s biggest clients in the U.S., Europe and China.

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