Comscore abruptly loses top two executives
Comscore's top two executives have abruptly left the company, with CEO Bryan Wiener citing "irreconcilable differences" with the board. He's being replaced by an interim CEO, Dale Fuller, a board member.
Wiener, who became CEO of Comscore last April, has stepped down along with President Sarah Hofstetter. Wiener was formerly executive chairman of Dentsu's 360i and Hoffstetter was CEO.
Their departure comes as Comscore also adds three additional board members--former chairman-CEO of WPP's GroupM Irwin Gotlieb, SoFi Chief Marketing Officer Joanne Bradford, and former CEO of GfK MRI Kathi Love. Rob Norman, former chief digital officer of GroupM, was already serving as a Comscore board member.
"This afternoon, I resigned as CEO and board member of Comscore. I have been very fortunate to lead Comscore during a period of significant change and to be part of such a talented team turning around the company strategically, financially and reputationally," Wiener said in a statement to Ad Age. "I ultimately chose to leave as the board and I had irreconcilable differences over how to execute the company's strategy. I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short period of time, and believe the company is strategically positioned to continue to take advantage of the rapidly evolving media marketplace with a core focus on advanced TV, and I wish its loyal employees, clients and investors well."
In her statement, Hofstetter also cited differences with the board over executing strategy, and said it's "a stronger company than just a few short months ago."
Comscore has spent the last year trying to course-correct following several years of internal challenges, including accounting irregularities and management shakeups. Wiener's departure marks the third CEO Comscore has lost in three years.
During Wiener and Hofstetter's brief tenure, Comscore attempted to reposition itself as a competitor to Nielsen, which has long been the go-to standard for TV measurement. The company introduced its campaign ratings product in beta in September 2018, which looks to provide unduplicated measurement of video ad campaigns across linear TV, over-the-top, desktop and mobile platforms. CNN signed earlier this month on as one of the first TV companies to utilize the measurement.
Comscore's stock is down slightly since Wiener took over on April 23, but up 40 percent year-to-date. Wiener had just laid out a strategic plan for the company on a fourth-quarter earnings conference call in February, including modernizing its technology, focusing on TV and cross-platform solutions, and helping advertisers and media companies move away from age-gender demographics toward "outcomes-based transactions."
But he said the transformation wouldn't be "instantaneous," and that while the moves would produce revenue this year, the plan aimed to "set us up nicely for 2020 and 2021."
Comscore did deliver 6.7 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter, with TV and cross-platform revenue up more than 30 percent.
The TV industry has been rooting for Comscore to get its act together as it desperately seeks competition for stalwart Nielsen, which has struggled to keep up with measuring new forms of distribution and accounting for the fragmented viewing happening across platforms and devices.
Wiener replaced Gian Fulgoni, who retired from the company in November 2017. Comscore remained without a CEO until Wiener joined in April. Fulgoni took over as CEO in August 2016, replacing Serge Matta after accounting issues arose.