Gian Fulgoni, who co-founded comScore in 1999 and returned as the company’s CEO in 2016, spoke recently with Cablefax contributor Dade Hayes about the state of the company’s cross-platform efforts. Here are edited excerpts of that conversation about measurement and the way forward.
There’s been some advancement over the past couple of years, but several stumbling blocks remain. What do you think are the biggest?
The problem is that the technology work involved can’t be done quickly. Many of the companies that need to be measured don’t have spare technology resources sitting around. Then, even once it’s done, because the entity that’s being measured was involved in generating the data that’s being used, they feel, and rightly so, a sense of ownership of the data and wants to bless it before it’s published. So this slows down the entire process.
There is a lot of fragmentation—of content, of platforms, of viewing. How do you try to bring it all together?
When you try to get down to understanding the audience for a particular show on a particular platform, that’s a challenge. Then it gets even more complicated because what media planners need to know is the unduplicated audience across platforms. They don’t just want to know the total number of people watching. They want to know, ‘What happens if I move from live television to time-shifted television to streaming? What’s the incremental audience I had and how does it vary by demo?’ It gets crazy. They want to know, ‘What about A plus B?’ Or, ‘Show me A plus C or A plus B plus C.’ You end up with hundreds of combinations of shows. It’s unbelievable.
How does comScore’s approach stand out?
We have come at it in an interesting way. We built out technology to do this measurement at scale. In digital, we have a million people on a panel in the US. But that’s supplemented by tagging. Rentrak came at the television business with 52 million set top boxes. Those are combined with 114 million VOD screens and 70,000 panelists. We integrate all of it together.
How difficult is it to reconcile the viewing of digital video with that of traditional TV content?
There are a whole set of issues in digital and a different set of issues in television, and then you’ve got common elements. The more television content is viewed via digital means, the more challenges there are in measurement.
What about the overall market for measurement? Beyond you and Nielsen, other new players have appeared as the quest for cross-platform data becomes more urgent.
Fragmentation of platforms and programming demands scale of measurement. But when those systems are built, there is so much data that it spawns a secondary market, an analytics market. So what’s happening is the market is expanding, which is good news for the measurement companies.
(Fulgoni will keynote Cablefax’s June 8 TV Summit, sharing exclusive data about cross-platform measurement. More info at www.cfxtvsummit.com)