comScore

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comScore, Inc. CS LOGO.png
Type Public Company
Traded as NASDAQSCOR
Industry Analytics
Founded 1999
Founder(s) Magid Abraham and Gian Fulgoni
Headquarters Reston, Virginia, U.S.
Employees 1,000+
Website comscore.com

comScore is an American Internet analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to many of the world's largest enterprises, agencies, and publishers.

History[edit]

ComScore Networks was founded in August 1999 in Reston, Virginia. The company was co-founded by Gian Fulgoni, who was for many years the CEO of market research company Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) and Magid Abraham, who was also an ex-IRI employee and had served as President of IRI in the mid-1990s.

Magid and Gian came up with the idea while working with one of the original investors in the company, Mike Santer, who thought up the concept of creating a very large consumer panel online to track online commerce. The problem was that the traditional methods in which companies were tracking online behavior would not work in tracking commerce, because of the lower incidence of buying online. Normal panels in tracking visitation would be around 20-30K and, with less than 2-3% of the population buying online, the panel size needed to be at least 1-2MM. They decided to build a very large panel using more aggressive recruiting methodology and managing for the error by using advanced statistical methods and controls. Years and tens of millions of dollars went into finding the best ways to measure online buying and other behaviors, plus the level of accuracy required for Fortune 1000 companies to buy.[citation needed]

In 2000, comScore bought certain assets and the customer agreements of PC Data of Reston, Virginia, which was founded by Ann Stephens in 1991. PC Data was among the earliest Web measurement firms, but increasing competitive challenges (including a threat of a patent infringement lawsuit by industry pioneer Media Metrix) put PC Data's future in doubt. The acquisition of PC Data's large customer base helped accelerate the growth of comScore's syndicated measurement service, which was considered by some[citation needed] to be more accurate than the service which PC Data technology previously delivered. Stephens later founded the Internet firm Portrait Quilts (www.portraitquilts.com).

By 2001, Media Metrix had built a market share lead but had been unable to create a sustainable financial structure. NetRatings, its closest competitor, was armed with strong capital reserves and announced its intention to acquire and integrate Media Metrix. However, after several months, the FTC announced its intention to block the acquisition and accordingly, NetRatings canceled the transaction. comScore was subsequently able to acquire Media Metrix in a deal announced in June 2002.

Media Metrix originated as PC Meter, a business unit of market research company NPD Group and began publishing statistics in January 1996. In July 1997, it changed its name to Media Metrix, citing the desire to track a wider variety of interactive traffic. In October 1998, Media Metrix merged with its nearest rival, Relevant Knowledge. The company went public as NASDAQ:MMXI in May 1999, reaching a market cap of $135 million on its first day of trading. In June 2000, the company acquired Jupiter Communications for $414 million in stock and changed its name to Jupiter Media Metrix. In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble collapse and associated downturn in internet marketing spending, Jupiter sold the Media Metrix service to rival comScore for $1.5 million in June 2002.

On March 30, 2007, comScore announced its intent to sell shares in an initial public offering and be traded on the Nasdaq using the symbol "SCOR".

In May 2008, comScore announced its acquisition of M:Metrics, a company measuring mobile content consumption. The transaction involved a cash payment of $44.3 million and the issue of approximately 50,000 options to purchase shares of comScore common stock to certain M:Metrics unvested option holders.

comScore announced in October 2009 the acquisition of Certifica, a provider of real-time web measurement and digital marketing technology solutions in Latin America. Based in Santiago, Chile, Certifica has offices throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Peru. The acquisition enhanced comScore’s presence in the rapidly-developing Latin American market.

In February 2010, comScore announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire the ARSgroup in an all-cash acquisition. Headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, ARSgroup’s areas of expertise included brand strategy, all stages of creative development, campaign evaluation across all marketing and media channels, media planning, return-on-investment, and forecasting.

On July 1, 2010, comScore announced that it has acquired the products division of Nexius, Inc.

comScore then acquired web analytics and video measurement solutions provider Nedstat for approximately $36.7 million. Announced on September 1, 2010, the acquisition helps comScore accelerate its global expansion strategy, particularly in European markets.

Data collection and reporting[edit]

comScore maintains a group of users who have monitoring software (with brands including PermissionResearch, OpinionSquare and VoiceFive Networks) installed on their computers.[citation needed] In exchange for joining the comScore research panels, users are presented with various benefits, including computer security software, Internet data storage, virus scanning and chances to win cash or prizes.[citation needed]

comScore is up-front about collecting user data and the software's ability to track all of a user's internet traffic, including normally secure (https://) connections used to communicate banking and other confidential information.

comScore estimates that two million users are part of the monitoring program. However, self-selected populations, no matter how large, may not be representative of the population as a whole. To obtain the most accurate data, comScore adjusts the statistics using weights to make sure that each population segment is adequately represented. To calculate these weights, comScore regularly recruits panelists using random digit dialing and other offline recruiting methods to accurately determine how many users are online, aggregated by geography, income, and age. Correcting the comScore data requires having accurate demographics about the larger pool of users. However, some comScore users are recruited without being asked to give demographic information and, in other cases, users may not be truthful about their demographics. To ensure the accuracy of the data, comScore verifies its users' demographics during the course of measuring statistical data.

The corrected data is used to generate reports on topics ranging from web traffic to video streaming activity and consumer buying power.

Unified Digital Measurement[edit]

With the introduction of Unified Digital Measurement (UDM) in May 2009, comScore implemented a solution to digital audience measurement that organically blended both panel and census-based measurement approaches into a single unified methodology. comScore has developed this proprietary methodology to calculate audience reach in a manner not affected by variables such as cookie deletion and cookie blocking/rejection to help reconcile longstanding differences between the two measurement approaches.

Campaign measurement[edit]

comScore debuted Campaign Essentials in 2010 to measure how digital campaigns are reaching their audiences. In March 2012, comScore launched validated Campaign Essentials (vCE), which introduced the notion of “validated” impressions. In January 2013, comScore announced that it had evaluated 4,000 campaigns for clients covering more than 75 advertising agencies.

Criticism[edit]

In 2006, Ben Edelman, a Harvard researcher, alleged that there were cases where comScore software had been installed on users' computers without their knowledge. comScore admitted that it was in discussion with a spyware firm called DollarRevenue but said that no contract was ever signed, and that once it realized DollarRevenue was distributing comScore's software, months later, it took steps to prevent the DollarRevenue-distributed software from sending data to comScore. Stanford IT notes that the monitoring software has been bundled with file sharing program iMesh without users being aware of it, although comScore's relationship with iMesh was short-lived and occurred several years ago.

In the past, the software forwarded users' internet traffic through comScore proxy servers, provoking criticism about speed performance. As a result, several universities and banks took steps to block the proxy servers. In response to these concerns, comScore no longer uses this technology.[citation needed]

In June 2010, a warning about Mac Spyware being launched from free applications like screensavers, from security company Intego was reported in the media and implicated VoiceFive, Inc. as the source of certain alleged spyware software.

Awards[edit]

Magid Abraham, comScore's President, CEO, and co-founder, received the 2009 Charles Coolidge Parlin Marketing Research Award at the 2009 American Marketing Association Marketing Research Conference.

comScore was selected as a winner of the 2009 Chicago Innovation Awards for its creative development of AdEffx in October 2009.

In June 2009, comScore and the GSM Association won the M.E.F. Award for Business Intelligence in Mobile Media.

comScore was rated as the preferred audience measurement service by 50.4 percent of respondents to the William Blair & Company 6th semiannual survey of the members of the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA).

comScore was ranked as the 15th largest U.S. market research firm based on 2008 domestic revenues, growing faster than each of the largest 25 research firms, according to the 2008 Honomichl Top 50 report.

comScore was selected by World Economic Forum as one of 2007's 47 most innovative companies.

CEO Magid Abraham was honored with the Eighth Annual Buck Weaver Award for Marketing. The award recognizes individuals who have made important contributions to the advancement of theory and practice in marketing science.

In 2014, comScore has been awarded the "New Technology of the Year Award" by Digital Analytics Association. With its multi-platform capability, Digital Analytix is able to unify users across devices and platforms using comScore’s proprietary browser unification methodology.

Trees for Knowledge[edit]

comScore Trees for Knowledge is a partnership with the non-profit organization, Trees for the Future, which provides resources to developing countries to improve rural livelihoods through the introduction of environmentally sustainable land management.