Industry profile: The Comscore Q&A

Taking on transparency, brand safety and fraud in the media and marketing world – in this Q&A interview – Comscore global executive vice-president of commercial Will Hodgman looks what needs to be fixed across the industry and provides a roadmap for getting the job done

How and why is your company different from all the others out there, what is unique about what you do and your approach?

“As a pioneering audience measurement company, Comscore was founded with a mission to solve the most complex challenges in the media ecosystem. Today, that challenge is accurately measuring audiences in an increasingly cross-platform world and we are responding to that challenge with our Comscore ‘campaign ratings’ currency-grade cross-platform video ad measurement solution.

“Media disruption has upended the way marketers and media companies connect with audiences to drive growth. To make decisions with confidence, the world’s leading businesses need an independent partner for understanding consumer behaviour across platforms. That is where we are innovating.”

Who are your clients?

“We have a wide range of clients worldwide across all industries. We help leading media properties, brands and advertisers connect the dots to grow their businesses.”

Which countries do you operate in?

“The company has a global footprint in 70 countries including the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, the United Kingdom, France, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Singapore.”

Can you outline the services you provide?

“We are the trusted currency for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms. Our solutions are broken into three categories:

  1. “Ratings and planning: Solutions to help media buyers and sellers reliably measure audiences and content in a cross-platform media environment.
  2. Analytics and optimisation: Solutions to help marketers optimize and evaluate media and marketing investment to drive accountability and impact.
  3. Movies reporting and analytics: Solutions to help distributors and exhibitors inform key decisions in the lifecycle of a film to maximize box office sales.”

How is the industry changing?

“There’s a great deal of chaos in the marketplace right now. You have media properties grading their own homework, an expansion of walled gardens and an undercurrent of confusion when it comes to standardised metrics and nomenclature.

“As the landscape grows in complexity and content continues to proliferate across platforms, cross-platform measurement becomes a critical asset for making business decisions with confidence.

“Both media buyers and sellers are increasingly asking for unbiased, stable third-party measurement to not only reduce friction in the marketplace, but to also help grow their businesses.”

What is the next big thing coming down the line for your industry?

“There’s a big opportunity to lift the industry up through better cross-platform measurement. Cross-platform measurement is necessary when making informed business decisions in an increasingly complex media environment.

“We help leading media properties, brands, and advertisers connect the dots to grow their businesses.”

What work are you most proud of and why?

“Reaching the right audience is key to any successful campaign. Comscore ‘campaign ratings’, our new currency-grade cross-platform video ad measurement solution, lets you evolve the way you evaluate advertising with in-flight delivery insights to set you up for success, regardless of platform.

“With us, you can leverage industry-leading audience measurement to ensure your campaign hits its target, optimise for reach and frequency and get an unduplicated view of cross-platform performance.”

What is the landmark piece of work by others that was a game-changer for the industry?

“The speech by Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble on media transparency in early 2017 – calling out marketers, agencies, ad tech platforms and suppliers, to clean up the media supply chain.

“He was the first public figure to openly mention the lack of standards, measurements and verifications and that we need better advertising to drive growth, backed by media transparency. He highlighted that accredited third-party measurement verification, transparent agency contracts are needed, next to that, the industry should look to adopt one viewability standard.”

If you had to pick one thing that has damaged the industry as a whole, what would it be?

“The industry has a trust gap. Issues related to viewability and invalid traffic hinder performance, and – more broadly – diminish trust and transparency across the industry. Brand safety is another hot topic in digital advertising, and for good reason.

“Budgets, reputations, and relationships – both with media partners and customers – are on the line when an ad is delivered in a questionable environment. New regulations and growing industry complexity have had a tremendous impact on the media and advertising industry in 2018, causing many to reassess their programmatic targeting and packaging strategies.

“Amid these developments, Comscore has worked closely with advertisers and publishers alike to help solve their most pressing challenges. Comscore ‘activation’, for example, is a suite of robust pre-bid content filters that helps you achieve brand-safe, relevant ad delivery while avoiding wasted spend and issues related to fraud.”

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the rise of artificial intelligence and its effect upon your industry?

“AI will replace resource intensive processes that are included in the run up to serving an ad to the target audience of marketers. It will also anticipate consumer’s purchase consideration, as well as their wants, needs and interests – serving messages on a one-to-one basis with tailored messaging.

“But of course, technologies like these won’t solve the problems associated with digital advertising – we’re in the beginning stages at this point in time and first and foremost the foundation, so the technology needs to be up to par in order to predict any long-term effect on the industry.”

Finally, which international market will lead the way for your industry over the next 50 years and why?

“The Asia-Pacific. According to eMarketer’s latest report – Global Ad Spending: The eMarketer Forecast for 2018 – APAC is expected to become the leading ad spend market in 2022.”

Will Hodgman is global executive vice-president of commercial at Comscore and is based in the United Kingdom

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