Tactics: The tracker

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2008
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.


RENTRAK
Publicly traded (ticker: RENT)

HEADQUARTERS: One Airport Way, Northeast Portland

EMPLOYEES: 275

CEO: Paul Rosenbaum

FISCAL 2008 REVENUES: $93.2 million

NEW DEVELOPMENTS: compiling second-by-second television data to sell to advertisers and agencies

PaulRosenbaum
PAUL ROSENBAUM, CEO of Rentrak

PHOTO BY ADAM BACHER

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.”

To expand into this new business, Rentrak, which has 275 employees, uses the steady revenues of its legacy business of distributing home entertainment to retailers on a pay-per-transaction basis. That was what Rosenbaum inherited after he won the proxy battle: a video distribution business in danger of becoming obsolete. What Rosenbaum decided after consulting with his IT managers was that Rentrak’s greatest asset was the tracking system it had built to follow store-by-store transactions.

With minor modifications, the same proprietary system now covers movies, video-on-demand, mobile devices and cable television. According to Rosenbaum, Rentrak monitors 113 million box-office transactions, 4 billion on-demand transactions and 365 billion TV transactions per year. In case you’re wondering, a television “transaction” consists of a viewer changing channels and keeping it on the new station for 20 seconds or more.

To turn those clicks into money, Rentrak will need to beat Nielsen to the punch: a daunting task but not unprecedented. Rentrak took away Nielsen’s business of tracking box-office revenues for Hollywood studios and today has 100% market penetration in that area. “We are the only company in the world that has unseated Nielsen in one of their existing businesses,” Rosenbaum says, sounding like he’s ready for a scrap. “They may have underestimated us in the past, but they probably won’t in the future.”                       

BEN JACKLET


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

Efficiency Boost

June 2015
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

How conservation stimulates the local economy.


Read more...

Intrepid reporter checks out ZoomCare rebrand

The Latest
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
dentistthumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Like all good journalists, OB editorial staff typically eschew freebies. But health care costs being what they are, digital news editor Jacob Palmer couldn't resist ZoomCare's offer of a three-in-one (cleaning, exam, whitening) dental office visit, guaranteed to take no more than 57 minutes. 


Read more...

5 stats about Oregon fireworks

The Latest
Thursday, June 18, 2015
fireworksthumb001BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Fireworks are a booming industry, even if the pyrotechnics have turned July 4th into a day fire marshals, and many residents, love to hate.


Read more...

Department of Self-Promotion

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

061715-awards1Oregon Business wins journalism awards.


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...

Downtime with John Helmick

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play: CEO of Gorilla Capital.


Read more...

Marijuana law ushers in new business age

The Latest
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
062315panelthumbBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS