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ComScore Adds TV Exec for Measurement Bid

Web-Measurement Giant Would Very Much Like to Become a TV Player, Too

By Published on . 1

NEW YORK (AdAge) -- ComScore added some firepower in its bid to extend its media measurement to TV. The analytics firm hired former Arbitron exec Joan FitzGerald as VP-television sales and business development, which means it's knocking at the door of cable, satellite, telco and set-top makers such as TiVo to do business deals for data.

Arbitron, known for local radio measurement, made limited inroads into TV, mostly for out-of-home viewing in public places. It has deals with Turner for out-of-home TV measurement and provided out-of-home data to NBC Universal for its cross-platform measurement of the Olympics.

ComScore's move is part of the ongoing derby to measure video wherever and whenever it is watched from online to TV, video-on-demand to mobile. The incumbent in this space is Nielsen Co., but the industry, led by the leading marketers and media companies, is looking for better answers to an increasingly complex problem.

Increased competition
Last fall a group including WPP, Disney, NBC Universal and Procter & Gamble launched the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, which will help fund and evaluate new methods of measuring a splintered media universe. A host of companies are positioning to become bigger players in TV measurement, including Rentrak, which already collects data from 70 million set-tops, TRA, WPP-owned TNS, ComScore and of course, Nielsen itself.

ComScore has huge data-processing capacity and its own methodologies or measuring the web, which it would like to apply to TV. "We do have a data architecture and a platform that is massively scalable and very flexible -- it could take TV data without any trouble at all," said ComScore co-founder Gian Fulgoni.

But it's a tough problem because the cable, satellite and telcos own their data, and set-top data itself is an inexact proxy for TV viewing. That is, if you can get it at all. Those with the data have different agendas and business models.

Taxing data
"Some will want cash; others will want the intelligence they can get," Mr. Fulgoni said. "The other issue that everybody is going to have to deal with is no one will let their data be published."

Thanks to multiple providers and standards on the web, marketers and agencies have become accustomed to using multiple providers of data depending on the kind of insights they're looking for. Increasingly, they're applying multiple standards to measurement on TV, the web and mobile devices.

That means the notion of the single "gold" standard, a la Nielsen in TV or Arbitron in radio, is probably over, opening up a new era in competition in the measurement business.

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