In the battle to become online's -- and by default, digital's and possibly all other media's -- official advertising currency, comScore scored a major coup Monday, announcing a deal embedding its audience ratings standard into the biggest component of the online display market's infrastructure: Google's DoubleClick. The move was an important vote of confidence for comScore's so-called vCE ratings, coming months after Google announced it would allow rival Nielsen to embed its Online Campaign Ratings tags on YouTube.
That deal -- which was not exclusive, as comScore's ratings are still the standard for many YouTube advertisers -- seemed to give some perceived momentum to Nielsen, which is the so-called “gold standard” for TV ratings, even though comScore's ratings are by far the dominant source of measuring online advertising campaigns.
Following several recent developments, including comScore's deal to begin providing “real-time audience metrics” to DoubleClick's advertisers, agencies and publishers, as well as comScore's acquisition of Nielsen's LinkMeter technology (mandated by the Federal Trade Commission as part of Nielsen's acquisition of Arbitron), gives the perceived momentum back to comScore.
This morning, comScore sent another strong signal to the market that it is in it for the long haul, announcing a management restructuring that sets up the next generation of the world's largest online measurement company. Long-time comScore vet Serge Matta has been named CEO, succeeding Co-Founder Magid Abraham, who will become executive chairman. Co-Founder and current Executive Chairman Gian Fulgoni becomes chairman emeritus, and will focus on “external-facing” industry initiatives.
Magid described the shift as the “culmination of a thoughtful, multi-year succession” plan to groom Matta for the top leadership role. Matta, who joined comScore shortly after its inception in 1999, has served as its president since 2013, and has been a key player in its product development. The transition follows a similar management restructuring at rival Nielsen, that moved a long-time line manager -- Mitch Barns -- into the CEO role, succeeding David Calhoun, who moved to the Nielsen board.
At least one influential analyst who follows both companies characterized comScore's deal with Google as having little material impact on Nielsen's position in the marketplace.
“With the focus on Nielsen enhanced by Google's recent announcement enabling Nielsen's OCR on YouTube, some Nielsen investors may read this in a negative light,” wrote Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser, adding: “However, while the news represents a product improvement for comScore, views on Nielsen should remain generally unchanged.”
While he described comScore's “real-time measurement of GRPs as a useful innovation for many advertisers,” Wieser noted it is “not necessary for most big brands “at this point in time.”