For Beth Plummer, Senior Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer, Spectrum Reach, the inclusion of Comscore data is a much needed advancement. “Comscore has a richer massive and passive methodology inclusive of our data in measuring local audiences,” she explained. “Their data is based on real viewing behavior - set top box return path data - and it's anonymized versus panel or other methods that other audience measurement companies utilize.” Overall she felt that the full data set would be more stable, more reliable and able to include Spectrum’s first party data, in a privacy compliant manner. All of these considerationsled to the decision to make the transition to primarily using Comscore for their television sales business.
Prior to this move, Spectrum and the industry in general had posting and measurement issues. “We would tell advertisers that we're going to deliver this many impressions or a certain amount of gross rating points. We were seeing wild fluctuations in delivery after the campaign because the data we used to build the campaign was not stable,” she noted. Once the switch was made to Comscore, “We are seeing more reliable posts. Our campaigns are delivering based on estimates much more consistently.” Spectrum has also done analyses outside of advertiser campaigns that show that the data is now considerably more stable with less fluctuation day to day and week to week compared to previous data sets. And, Spectrum’s use of Comscore for their television data measurement is used in tandem with Spectrum’s own first party data to complete a cross-platform buy.
According to Plummer, the response from advertisers has been enthusiastic. “The reactions been really very strong. We started our big transition in our southeast region last year which is Alabama and Florida. (Now) the majority are transacting using Comscore,” she asserted. Her efforts specifically focused on Spectrum’s local sales channels that have suffered the brunt of small sampling and volatile, unstable data. “Our local advertisers are receptive to using Comscore. Many of them were familiar with Comscore and already purchasing that data,” she stated. In addition to agencies and advertisers, Plummer has seen good adoption from clients as well. Her next efforts will include larger markets and more regional advertisers. Right now, “it's predominantly smaller agencies where we've made more traction but we're continuing to chip away at the larger ones,” she said.
One of the challenges Spectrum had to overcome was the legacy buying systems at the agencies that may not be able to accommodate Comscore data for stewardship and posting. While some are fairly entrenched systems, others, she explained, “Are capable of working off additional data sets. Some of them, I believe might be an either-or; You're either a Nielsen shop or you're a Comscore shop. But a lot of the agencies buy Comscore data that they're using for pre campaign planning and other purposes,” she noted. “This isn't just a Comscore problem. This is an issue for any of the new measurement companies that are all trying to figure out how to work with the agency’s buying systems. And, agencies too want to transact using different data sets.”
Frankly, “Agencies really don't like the data instability either,” she confided. “They want us to deliver the campaign's audience that we sold them. It's a lot of work on the agency's backend to deal with makegoods and under delivery. So I think it's better for the agencies and I hope a year from now, more of them will have adapted to using Comscore.”
Plummer hopes for greater industry change. “I would like to see a lot more agencies transacting off Comscore. It's better for the agencies and the advertisers,” she explained. For her, the legacy way of doing things no longer works for the industry and it’s up to the media companies, agencies and measurement companies fix it. “Consumers have changed how they watch TV. They'll say ‘I'm watching TV,’ but they're streaming or watching it on their phone. Our industry has not moved as quickly as consumers have. It's that shift in consumer behavior that has accelerated the need for us to embrace alternate measurements of measurement companies such as Comscore,” she concluded.
This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.comArtwork by Charlene Weisler