Nielsen to Buy Visual IQ as Adtech Acquisition Spree Continues

Nielsen has agreed to purchase Visual IQ in a move aimed at enhancing the research firm’s set of marketing tools and data-crunching capabilities.

Terms of the deal, announced Wednesday, weren’t disclosed. The acquisition is expected to close in October.

Needham, MA-based Visual IQ previously raised at least $15 million from investors, including Volition Capital and Fog City Capital. The 11-year-old firm was considering raising more venture capital, according to recent reports by the Boston Business Journal and BostInno. But evidently it determined the sale to New York-based Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) was a better option.

Visual IQ is the latest Boston-area marketing and advertising technology company to get snapped up this year. Mobile advertising startup Adelphic was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Viant, a Time (NYSE: TIME) subsidiary, in January. Video analytics firm Visible Measures was purchased in March by AcuityAds for $10 million in cash, a fraction of what investors had pumped into it since its founding in 2005. In July, nToggle was acquired by Los Angeles-based Rubicon Project (NYSE: RUBI), while HubSpot (NYSE: HUBS) acquired Kemvi. Other deals this year in the broader adtech industry include Glispa’s acquisition of JustAd, Spotify’s purchase of MightyTV, and Amobee’s acquisition of Turn.

There has also been a recent flurry of acquisitions of Boston-area startups across various sectors of tech, particularly companies formed in the late 2000s or early part of this decade. Other examples include Digital Lumens, Applause, Dragon Innovation, DataGravity, Nutonian, Kinvey, and Intrepid Pursuits.

Visual IQ co-founder and CEO Manu Mathew quit his previous job managing the Boston office of the advertising firm Carat in order to launch the “marketing intelligence” startup. Visual IQ says its software capabilities include tracking attribution, so that marketers know which ads and marketing channels contributed to a customer conversion. The bigger goal is to help businesses more effectively spend their advertising and marketing dollars and better understand consumer attributes and behavior.

Nielsen, widely known for providing TV ratings data, says acquiring Visual IQ will improve its ability to automatically pull in and process large datasets, while giving it access to more proprietary data from advertisers, publishers, and retailers.

Visual IQ has been active over the past year. It acquired a German competitor, Refined Labs, in October 2016, and it released a new software platform this month.

Visual IQ’s team is joining Nielsen, according to a press release. Visual IQ employs more than 300 people worldwide, BostInno reported earlier this month.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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