Media Insights Q&A With ComScore's Josh Chasin

Josh Chasin, chief research officer of comScore, is an expert in IP measurement who launched his career at Arbitron and is currently overseeing all research initiatives at comScore. ComScore has four core business models, from audience analytics to advertising analytics to Web / monetization analytics and mobile operator analytics. In my interview with him, Josh talks about his work at comScore, the changing metrics in the online world, out-of-home insights and the importance of understanding how the online world works and evolves in terms of content delivery. Josh also shares his views on what the media landscape will look like five years from now.      

Below is an excerpt from the interview, whose videos can be seen here.

CW: You speak of Web ad measurement based on an “Opportunity To See” metric. Would ad placement on a site be impacted by above the fold or below the fold?



JC: Placement on a site is absolutely an issue. People naturally think that more credit is given for ads placed above the fold.  But I think it is more important to understand how inventory behaves on a page. For example, if you have a page that contains a long, engaging article where the headline is two-thirds down on the screen because there is branding and navigation taking up room at the top, the ads that are located below the fold in this case will often perform better. A lot of it has to do with the content itself and the way people interact with the content.

So the first thing you learn is that above the fold is a good thing -- your ad will be noticed -- and if your ad is way down the page, and no one ever scrolls that far, then no one has the chance to see it. But the second thing is more profoundly interesting to the buyers and sellers. It is that there is “gold below the fold” – there is a lot of inventory below the initial fold that is extremely valuable because you go to a page to read an article, and if the article is good and engaging almost everyone who goes to the page will want to read the article and ends up spending a lot of time with the ad in view, even though it might be below the fold. 

CW: Is there any type of content that performs better online – whether based on length or number of links or pages to follow? Any content truisms – content that draws in viewers and keeps them?

JC: The short answer is no. If anything, the rule is that there are no rules.

CW: In terms of measurement metrics, what about the page views?

JC: When the Web started out, the metaphor we migrated to was that of the magazine. We called them “publishers,” we looked at pages. And yes, you look at an article and it says “click to go to the next page.”

The concept regarding clicking to a new page is good because it gives you the opportunity to serve up a new ad, and it also enables the counting of ads and the closer counting of pages. But increasingly there are technologies that let the publisher dynamically serve and refresh content. So you can be on Google Maps, for example, and navigate around a map -- zoom in and zoom out -- and it is all a single page view. You are interacting with content.

The same is true with Facebook. You can be on a Facebook page, you can go to your Facebook news feed and there is no page two – you can just keep scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. It is all a single page – one page view quote / unquote. So I personally tend to think that the metric of the page view is going to decrease in importance over time.

When I joined comScore five years ago, there were already articles on “Is the Page View Dead?”  Clearly the page view is not dead, but I if were to predict, I would predict that you will see a migration toward a new metric which might be called events or actions. So if you are on your Facebook page and you click on a poll, it is an event. So you have interacted with a page and as a result of your interaction you are going to get a new piece of content but it is still the same page. Requesting a new page will also be an event, but it will be a page-changing event. I think what you might start to see is the tracking of events as a more granular interaction with the content page. So you will have events, pages and duration, so that over time -- once you have the event metric -- it would free people up to rely less on page views. Pages can’t go away because a lot of business is managed against page views, but I think it will decrease in importance -- especially when more of the publishers don’t serve their content in pages.

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