The battle between publisher-side and third-party audience measurement data rages on. But comScore and Omniture hope their new partnership will help assuage concerns about the validity of audience data among publishers and advertisers.
“We think that digital advertising has been held back,” said Matt Langie, senior director, product marketing at Omniture, regarding discrepancies among various audience measurement sources.
The deal is no panacea for such problems, but it represents another step in the evolution of the Web’s largest audience research firms in the quest to produce numbers that both publishers and media buyers trust.
Through the relationship, Omniture will provide the clickstream data it tracks for its publisher clients, including page views, clicks, video views, mobile interactions, and Facebook application interactions, to comScore. In return, Omniture will provide its clients with demographic and psychographic data on their respective sites from comScore.
For instance, explained Langie, an Omniture client “may do an e-mail campaign targeting young mothers and can then see how that e-mail campaign is performing in terms of demographics.”
Recognizing the limitations of audience data based only on its panel, comScore released its panel-centric hybrid measurement system, dubbed Media Metrix 360, earlier this year. The company claimed the system would help reconcile its data with publisher and ad server data. The relationship with Omniture promises ready-made access to many more publishers potentially resulting in more site-side information to better inform the Media Metrix data. Lipsman would not comment on whether either firm would be compensated for the data exchange.
Through the new partnership, ComScore and Omniture clients won’t get new reports per se, but they could begin to see more agreement between publisher-side audience numbers and those of comScore. “This is a way to implement Media Metrix 360 through the Omniture platform,” said Andrew Lipsman, director of industry analysis at comScore.
The hitch: getting Omniture’s publisher partners to opt-in to the program. It’s free to publishers using the analytics firm’s online marketing suite, and according to Langie requires no new tagging or changes on their ends. However, it may be difficult to convince some publishers — many of whom already have access to comScore data — to allow Omniture to pass their clickstream data over to comScore.
“There’s absolutely that possibility” of pushback from publishers, Lipsman acknowledged. “People are in various stages of participation already, but it won’t be right away universally adopted.”
For publishers that do participate, the end result could mean more agreement between their data and the panel-based data they’ve been railing against for years. For instance, at-work and mobile site visitors might be better represented in comScore’s metrics now since they often are not reflected in panel-based estimates.
“We’ll be able to overlay what we’re doing with our panel data…then there will be a better understanding of why the discrepancies have been there,” said Lipsman.
Amid the publisher vs. audience research firm battle, Quantcast has gained prominence through its census-based audience measurement approach. The company claims it tracks site visitation and interaction on 10 million Web sites as a free service to publishers. The firm has recently introduced tools allowing media buyers to define ad targets and actually buy online media through Quantcast.
Omniture clients include NBC, USA Today, Comcast, AOL, and MTV. ComScore also counts several publishers as clients, so the two by nature share clients. According to Langie, those that adopt the new offering can tailor it so only information about certain properties or sub-domains is accessible to comScore.
Design software giant Adobe agreed to purchase Omniture for $1.8 billion last week, potentially enabling Adobe to make inroads in the online ad business.
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