Co-founder of comScore Gian Fulgoni retired from his role as CEO of the cross-platform measurement company in January. But while he may be stepping away from the day-to-day work of running companies, Fulgoni is not slowing down. When not busy with the venture capital fund he co-founded and his work on numerous boards, he might just find more time to race his Porsche GT3 RS. This year’s Cable Lifetime Achievement honoree shared with us some ideas on the future of cross-platform measurement and some tips on navigating the road to success. The following is an edited version of the interview.
Looking ahead, what are the main challenges of measuring audiences in a world of multi-platform viewing?
Everything has become so fragmented, so complicated in the digital age that it’s making the measuring of audiences on different platforms at different times of day really challenging. I don’t think it’s possible to do this measurement without the cooperation of the entity being measured. That’s a massive change. In days gone by, in television, everybody relied on the Nielsen panel, and the entity being measured didn’t really have to cooperate. These panels are still necessary, but they’re not sufficient. If somebody’s not going to cooperate in this regard, I think they’re hurting their own interests. It’s always been the case that the buyers need to understand what they’re buying. If the buyers aren’t confident in the information you have, it limits how much as revenue you’ll get. In a world of transparency, the entities being measured provide the information.
Digital platforms seem to be generating a growing volume of data. How useful is it?
The number of people who think they have data that’s relevant is really pretty astounding. The question is, are some of these data pieces even worthwhile? Are they relevant? Are they accurate? Think of the surveys that are being run using online panels. It was shown that people who join an online survey panel are much heavier users of the internet than other people. It’s the nature of the beast. If you start asking them about their use of the internet versus television, you’ll get answers skewed toward the internet. In this complicated world, I think it’s more important than ever to ask the question, what do I have in this data set?
How do you see content owners and advertisers adapting to the fragmentation in viewing platforms?
Consumers are getting annoyed by too much ad clutter. The networks are beginning to reduce the ad loads. They get it. They’re going to shorter ads. There’s the emergence of 6-second ads. I think that really started in the digital world because running a 30-second or 15-second ad in front of a 1-minute video is really an unpleasant experience. The future of the ad industry is fewer ads and shorter ads. One of the other reactions is the emergence of ad-free content. Consumers really like that. I think that content owners are increasingly realizing they have to give options.
Looking back on your career so far, what would you say was your biggest break?
The biggest break would have to be the first one. When I was in graduate school in the UK, I was offered a job that brought me to the United States. It was with a small research company [Management Science Associates, Inc. (MSA)] in Pittsburgh that had been started by a marketing science professor, Dr. Al Kuehn. Out of the blue, I got offered this job and really never went back. The next break was when John Malec called me in 1980 and asked if I would join him in a company he had just started [Information Resources, Inc. (IRI)]. That was a huge break because I was able to participate in the building of radical new measurement systems. The last big break was meeting Magid Abraham at IRI. He and I later founded comScore in 1999. He’s a brilliant tech guy. I think I’ve made some right decisions along the way, but if I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with some really smart people, none of this would have happened.
– Caron Carlson
- Gian Fulgoni started his career at Management Science Associates, Inc. in 1970. He later moved to Information Resources, Inc., where he held the positions of president, CEO and chairman. In 1999, he co-founded comScore, Inc.
- Today, Fulgoni serves on the boards of PetMeds, InXpo, the Advertising Researching Foundation, Dynamic Signal, and the North American Foundation for the University of Manchester. He is a partner in the early stage investment capital fund, The Chicago FireStarter Fund.
- In addition to owning a Porsche GT3 RS for racing on the track, Fulgoni owns a Porsche Turbo for driving on the road.