ComScore to Roll Out New Cross-Platform Measurement in Time for TV Upfronts

Moves to Take on Nielsen in National Ratings on TV and Connected Devices

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ComScore plans to introduce a new cross-platform TV measurement product designed to take on Nielsen's dominant position in TV ratings.

The company, which recently completed its merger with Rentrak, announced its plans during an earning call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday. CEO Serge Matta said ComScore deliver cross-platform measurement for review by April, which will disclose information about viewing on TV sets and connected devices on a monthly basis. The company will release a syndicated cross-media service revealing daily data across the industry in time for the fall TV season, he said.

The syndicated measurement service "will have person-level reporting across linear TV, time-shifted TV, [video-on-demand], over-the-top and digital video with advanced demographics and a broad range of measures for national and local markets," Mr. Matta said.

"Our new model combines massive scale and smarter methodology to deliver better information and more precise results," Mr. Matta said. "Now better information and more precise results is what the market is hungry for. Better information means the ability to use advanced demographics to plan and execute media buys. The ability to link detailed consumer demographics that go far beyond age and gender with the exact TV shows, web site or mobile experiences that the target consumer is watching."

"Better information means new currencies that allow media companies to properly value their complete cross screen audience," he continued. "Better information also means that the media companies no longer sell themselves short, because of lack of measurement on all of the screens their audiences use."

The merger of ComScore and Rentrak could pose the first real threat to Nielsen, which has dominated TV measurement for decades. Nielsen has been criticized for not keeping up with the changes in TV viewing behavior and for not accounting for viewing taking place on varying devices and platforms. The company has been working to better measure these viewers with the roll-out of its own Total Audience Measurement product, which is now in testing.

"Nielsen has the only total audience measurement, comparable across all screens, available to the market now," Megan Clarken, president-product leadership, Nielsen, said in a statement. "All of our data is fully representative of the U.S. population, and we deliver truly independent measurement. There are myriad analytics options for the media industry, but Nielsen's focus is on delivering the actual currency ratings data used for trading billions of dollars in advertising. We welcome competition across the marketplace, and as the global leader in total audience measurement, we remain laser-focused on delivering industrial strength, superior quality, and gold-standard audited processes and methods to the industry."

ComScore's key to measuring viewership across platforms is its Total Home Panel, which promises to measure connected devices in the home. It expects the technology to be fully complete in the third quarter and incorporated into the company's cross-media insights. The panel currently measures 4,000 active devices, according to the company. ComScore plans that to grow to 60,000 by the summer and over 300,000 by the end of the year.

ComScore also said WPP's GroupM, the largest buyer of TV ad inventory, will test using ComScore's local TV measurement for trading in almost 90% of markets. WPP has a stake in ComScore. Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer at GroupM, confirmed that. GroupM will continue to refer to Nielsen as well, he said.

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