Comscore emerges from restructure with focus on TV

Comscore is focused on all forms of TV across its business units

Twenty years after its birth to measure the digital world, Comscore’s chief product officer now says the measurement and analytics company has its eyes firmly set on growing its video footprint.

“We're looking to make advancements in the measurement of video across all platforms,” said David Algranati, who was named Comscore’s product lead in May.

Algranati now holds a key role within Comscore, overseeing four of five newly created business units within the company: cross-platform, activation, digital and custom. The fifth division is movies, which interim chief executive officer Dale Fuller oversees.

Algranati said that digital is still a strong component of Comscore’s product portfolio, but the company’s recent product moves across its business units have been focused in advanced television in order to round out the company's cross-platform offering, what he called a "decided focus" for Comscore.

Comscore announced today that it has extended its audience targeting solution to include connected TV (CTV). Comscore is now licensing its data through Adobe Audience Manager, Oracle Data Cloud and Google Display and Video 360, which advertisers can then use target audiences in CTV.

Comscore already offers its demographic data to target specific audiences in traditional TV, digital and mobile. Rachel Gantz, general manager of activation, said incorporating CTV into the mix allows Comscore to better position itself within this cross-platform ecosystem “because that’s really where the market is shifting.”

Comscore is basing its CTV audiences on the IAB Tech Lab’s Identifier for Advertisers (IFA) standard, essentially a device ID, and not on household IP addresses.

Gantz called the move away from matching audiences to IP addresses a privacy win as it allows consumers to opt out of ad tracking.

This will allow Comscore to apply audience demographics to CTVs through IFAs, but disconnecting from the IP address could muddy its ability to attribute that data to a particular household. For instance, if a home has multiple CTVs with different operating systems, advertisers may struggle to connect the dots since they don’t have the IP address information that would tie everything together and unify the household.

Technicalities aside, Gantz said Comscore’s new CTV audience targeting offering is “in line with the same cross-platform story you here from the rest of Comscore, [and] very much an important piece of our activation go-to market.”

Comscore also told that cross-platform story on 14 August, striking a deal with Xandr to be the measurement provider of its addressable TV consortium, which includes DirecTV, Altice and Frontier.

Comscore is restructuring after the sudden departures of chief executive Bryan Wiener and president Sarah Hofstetter, who left after less than a year at the company over differences with the board's vision of Comscore's future.

Algranati has roots at Rentrak, a TV measurement company Comscore acquired in February 2016. Comscore now seems to be putting TV at the center of its business.

Digiday described Comscore’s internal workings as a “Rentrak takeover,” including a recent round of layoffs hitting 8% of the company’s workforce – around 150 people – that ousted Comscore’s digital sales leadership.

While Algranati would not comment on the internal shakeups, Fuller told Digiday that Comscore is reacting to an “evolving” marketplace, and is therefore “focused on innovating in a multi-platform cross-media world,” which includes digital.

Comscore is reacting to changing measurement standards

While Comscore is reportedly dealing with some internal strife, the company is also at the mercy of changing consumer habits that have forced the entire industry to address media fragmentation.

The Media Rating Council (MRC) responded to the uptick in connected devices and fragmentation of content consumption on 4 September when it released the finalized version of its cross-media audience measurement standard.

Central to the MRC’s standard is duration weighting, an attempt to count impressions equally across media while considering the length of an ad. So if someone watched three seconds of a 30-second ad, the MRC is saying that shouldn't count the same as watching three seconds of 15-second ad, or of a six-second ad.

The problem is that Comscore’s Campaign Ratings – its holistic, cross-platform measurement product – can’t currently solve for duration weighting.

The MRC isn’t making duration weighting a requirement until January 2021. Algranati said Comscore doesn’t yet have a timeline on when Campaign Ratings will be compliant with the MRC’s standards, but he’s confident the product will include duration weighting by the deadline date.

Comscore has been beta testing Campaign Ratings since September 2018. Algranati said some clients are out of test mode, but that Comscore has yet to fully roll out the cross-platform measurement product.

The sooner Comscore readies Campaign Ratings the better, especially since the company plans to be cashflow positive by the end of the year, according to Business Insider.

Comscore’s data activation unit, which now includes CTV, would also benefit from an ironed out measurement tool.

“Ultimately this targeting, planning and reporting is a bit cyclical, because usually you take learnings after one set of reporting to inform your next campaign,” said Algranati.

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