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|Saturday, November 01, 2008|
We don’t know who you are, but we know what you are watching.
AS HE RACES THROUGH a PowerPoint presentation describing the vast potential of the $93 million media-tracking empire he oversees, Rentrak CEO Paul Rosenbaum pauses to shake his head and say, “I just love this stuff.” By his own admission he knew nothing about the intricacies of information management before gaining control eight years ago of the Portland-based media tracker. It wasn’t his technical knowledge that earned him the job. It was his willingness to fight until he won.
Prior to taking over Rentrak, Rosenbaum, now 65, was a state legislator in Michigan, a trial attorney, founder and CEO of a chemical company (he didn’t know anything about chemicals either, he says), and co-owner of a boxing tour called the Toughman. The Toughman competition required the champion to defeat four separate opponents in a single day. Rosenbaum, a straight-talking former Golden Gloves boxer with photos of Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard on his office walls, clearly relishes a fight. He took over Rentrak by winning a proxy battle over corporate governance in 2000. His original plan was to stay six months as interim CEO, but he changed his mind after seeing an opportunity to lead Rentrak into a whole new area.
Rentrak under Rosenbaum has won a few skirmishes, growing into the top monitor of box-office receipts and video-on-demand data, but the larger battle lies ahead. It has to do with tracking the sprawling world of television, long dominated by the industry’s Goliath: the Nielsen Company. Nielsen ratings are the industry standard, but Rosenbaum is quick to point out that Nielsen only covers the top 25 of 425 networks. Rentrak’s programmers are honing a TV Essentials package to track all networks in all markets, analyzing audience retention and ad performance for advertisers and agencies.
“We can track it second by second,” he says. “This is invaluable to the advertiser. In the past advertising was 50% useless but nobody knew which 50%. It’s a whole different world now.”
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