Spectrum Reach Sees More Stability in Local Measurement With Comscore

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Local advertisers have historically faced measurement challenges, especially in smaller markets where the data was often unstable and volatile. Spectrum Reach has taken a pro-active approach to solving this vexing issue by partnering with Comscore for their local television advertising measurement.

"Comscore has a richer massive-and-passive methodology in measuring local audiences," explained Beth Plummer, Senior Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer at Spectrum Reach. "Their data is based on real viewing behavior -- set-top-box return-path data -- and it's anonymized." That's an improvement over research methods that other audience-measurement companies use, she added.

Plummer also made the switch based on the belief that the full data set would be more stable and reliable. Comscore's ability to include Spectrum's first-party data in a privacy compliant manner was a big selling point.

In the past, Spectrum and the industry in general has 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," Plummer said. "But we were seeing wild fluctuations in delivery after the campaign because the data we used to build the campaign was not stable."

Since making the switch, Spectrum has found that the Comscore data is considerably more stable, with less fluctuation day-to-day and week-to-week, compared with previous data sets.

Plummer's initial Comscore efforts focused on Spectrum's local sales channels that have suffered the brunt of small sampling and volatile, unstable data. Advertiser reaction to the Comscore data "has been really very strong," she said. "We started our big transition in our southeast region last year, which is Alabama and Florida." Now the majority of Spectrum's clients in the area are transacting with Comscore.

"Our local advertisers are receptive to using Comscore," Plummer continued. "Many of them were familiar with it and already purchasing that data." 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 noted.

One of the challenges Spectrum has to overcome is related to the legacy buying systems at the agencies, some of which aren't able to accommodate Comscore data for stewardship and posting. While some systems are fairly entrenched, others are capable of working off additional data sets.

For some agencies, it's an either-or situation, Plummer explained. "You're either a Nielsen shop, or you're a Comscore shop. But a lot of the agencies buy Comscore data for pre-campaign planning and other purposes," she said. "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 agencies' buying systems. And agencies also want to transact using different data sets."

Frankly, "agencies really don't like the data instability either," she asserted. "They want us to deliver the campaign audience that we sold them. It's a lot of work on the agencies' 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."

Bottom line, legacy audience research options no longer work for the industry, and it's up to the media companies, agencies and measurement companies to fix it, Plummer pointed out. "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," she concluded. "It's that shift in consumer behavior that has accelerated the need for us to embrace alternate measurement companies such as Comscore."

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