comScore’s New Metrics Mean Little for Video Marketers or Advertisers

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Yesterday, comScore in collaboration with the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) announced plans to expand its pioneering cross-platform measurement service, which provides continuous unified measurement of media usage on a national scale across TV, desktops, smartphones, tablets, and radios. This next phase will be open to participation from non-CIMM members as well as CIMM member companies. A number of major broadcasters, agencies, and brands have signed up for the service, including: ESPN, Disney ABC Television Group, Fox Broadcasting Co., NBC Universal, CBS Corporation, A&E Networks, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Univision Communications Inc., Viacom, Publicis Groupe, GroupM, and Omnicom Media Group, among others.

What Does This Mean for Online Video Marketers & Advertisers?

This expanded offering provides internet marketers and video content producers with several important new capabilities, including the measurement of:

  • Multi-platform advertising.
  • Mobile video.
  • Time-shifted viewing (i.e. DVR playback).
  • Children’s viewing.

These innovations build upon comScore’s initial phase of addressing the cross-platform measurement challenge, known as Project Blueprint. This initial proof of concept, done in collaboration with Arbitron and ESPN, expanded comScore’s existing multi-platform audience de-duplication methodology for internet usage on desktops, smartphones, and tablets to TV and radio in order to deliver the industry’s first unified view of these five major media platforms.

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The expanded cross-platform measurement service will be the first one of its kind to leverage both person-level TV viewing data (obtained via the Portable People Meter technology licensed from Nielsen Audio) and Set-Top Box viewing data, which includes viewing behavior from more than 5 million households. The service also leverages a state-of-the-art technology using both panel and census-based methods to accurately measure online and mobile video viewing, addressing increasingly important components of the TV/video landscape.

Reporting will deliver granular metrics at the network, show and telecast level that accounts for long tail viewing, thereby providing the scale required by media companies and advertisers. Comparable cross-media metrics, such as duplicated and unduplicated audience size and composition, duration, reach/frequency, and GRPs/TRPs, will also be featured in the reporting provided to clients.

In a press release, Serge Matta, President of comScore,  Jane Clarke, Managing Director, CIMM, and Artie Bulgrin, SVP of Global Research + Analytics, ESPN (a charter client and collaborator, said nice things about expanding their cross-platform measurement service. But, then, you would expect them to say stuff like that in a press release about their own initiative.

But, the press release also included several industry quotes in support of comScore’s cross-platform measurement service, and I know from more than 30 years of PR experience just how difficult it is to get those “bon mots” approved by corporate lawyers. (Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? A: How many can you afford?)

The Multi-platform Measurement Challenge

First, Alan Wurtzel, President of Research & Media Development, NBC Universal, said, “We always knew that solving the multi-platform measurement challenge would not be easy but that it was well worth pursuing. It’s clear that the innovative approaches undertaken so far have made significant strides in addressing these challenges, and we look forward to participating in the next phase of this research to gain a better understanding of cross-platform audiences and advertising exposure.”

Second, Kate Sirkin, EVP of Starcom MediaVest Group, added, “The introduction of Blueprint did an excellent job of setting the stage for the future of cross-screen media measurement, and we look forward to the expansion of the service where the rubber really meets the road. By enabling the broader industry to participate, all stakeholders can begin leveraging vital understanding to inform their cross-platform strategies and deliver improved performance of campaigns across screens.”

And third, Aaron Fetters, Director Insights and Analytics of The Kellogg Company, concluded, “Blueprint has laid exciting groundwork for a more comprehensive approach to cross-platform media planning and evaluation. By using new measurement techniques and leveraging digital data, significant advancements are being made and we look forward to participating in subsequent expansions of this service.”

So, this is yet another step forward in understanding and solving the challenges that marketers face when it comes to cross-media measurement, right?

Well, it reminds me of the “Kirk Beats Khan SCENE – Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan MOVIE (1982) – HD,” when Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) provides Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) with his analysis of the military tactics being used by Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), “He’s intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.”

The Vital Missing Dimension: Engagement

The two dimensions that Blueprint covers very intelligently are content and audience. The third dimension that is missing: Engagement. 

Online video is social. People are drawn to online video and web series because they can interact with the channel in ways that they can’t with television. The ability for creators to interact with their viewers is key to the medium. It not only lets you speak to your audience, it also lets you listen to what they say. And, if you actively engage with your audience through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social media, it will pay off in the long run. Your fans will become your social advocates – enabling you to do more than just increase brand awareness. 

Blueprint doesn’t look at this third dimension. At least, it doesn’t look at it yet. Nevertheless, the expansion announced yesterday comes with new capabilities within the cross-media measurement system, including the measurement of multi-platform advertising, mobile video, time-shifted viewing, and children’s viewing. That’s intelligent and with more experience could also lead to a deeper understanding of how online video ads and TV ads are different as well as similar and when they should be used together to engage as well as reach an audience.



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