- Beleaguered media measurement company Comscore is reorganizing after laying off 8% of its staff this past week. The company’s executives outlined its strategy in an exclusive interview with Business Insider.
- The company said it’s reorganizing its products around five product pillars, each of which will be led by a general manager.
- Interim CEO Dale Fuller said the goal of the reorg was to get the company cashflow positive for the first time in recent history.
- The move reflects a broader shift away from standalone traditional digital services to meet clients’ needs for cross-platform measurement.
- Comscore has been besieged by crises over the past few years, including an SEC investigation and executive departures. While some industry sources see a power struggle brewing between Comscore and Rentrak factions, others are optimistic about its future.
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Beleaguered media measurement and and analytics giant Comscore is recalibrating itself again.
After announcing that it would reduce its headcount by 8% as part of a reorganization this past week, the company’s executives is embarking on a new strategy, which it outlined in an exclusive interview with Business Insider.
The company, which has gone head-to-head with TV measurement company Nielsen to measure and analyze audiences across several platforms in recent years, is reorganizing its products around five product pillars, each with a general manager that will oversee the pillar’s vision, P&L, go-to-market strategy, delivery, sales, and market intelligence. The turnaround plan was approved by the company’s board on Aug. 16.
The pillars are cross-platform (which includes both linear and addressable TV), digital, custom, activation and movies. Whille the first four will fall under the purview of new chief product officer David Algranati, the latter will report to director and interim CEO Dale Fuller. The company also reinstated Chris Wilson, who departed under its former leadership, as chief commercial officer.
“What we’re trying to do is turn the company around,” Fuller told Business Insider. “The reorganization allows us to get everyone focused, hold people accountable, drive the bottom line, and really start seeing the results. By the end of this year, we will be cashflow positive for the first time in the company’s recent history.”
Comscore is racing toward cross-platform measurement
Comscore used to have a chief information officer, chief research officer, and chief product officer who collectively dictated strategy, but no clearly defined product leaders, which made it hard to decide where to invest and manage the P&L, Algranati said.
Now, the chief information and chief research officer roles have been done away with, and Algranati oversees everything from the panels to the engineering, analytics and operations teams. The aim of the streamlining and vertical structure is to create more visibility, accountability and control, minimize bureaucracy, and innovate faster, he said.
The shift away from standalone traditional digital services is designed to help Comscore serve the market’s needs, especially in cross-platform measurement, which refers to measuring ad campaigns across various types of media such as digital, TV, and mobile.
This means that Comscore is doubling down on areas including addressable TV and OTT, advanced audiences for activation, and targeting and outcome-based buying. For example, Comscore recently started working with AT&T’s Xandr to be the measurement provider for its addressable TV offering.
“The market wants us to be cross-platform, and in order for us to be successful in cross-platform, we had to bring our TV and digital divisions together and really have a singular cross-platform division,” said Wilson. “It allows our staff to really get cross-trained and understand what the future is. We’re skating to where the puck is going versus skating to where the puck is today. The intersection of those two is really where the opportunity lies going forward.”
Comscore has been besieged by crises over the past few years
Comscore, which is regarded as the leader in digital measurement, has been trying to take on industry leader Nielsen in cross-platform measurement since its merger with Rentrak in 2015. With this reorg, Comscore’s leadership is moving from its traditional focus on digital measurement to what it sees as its next big growth opportunity.
Comscore execs argue they have an edge over Nielsen in addressable TV. As Algranati sees it, as advertisers air some ads in some households and not in others, traditional television ratings services don’t cut it anymore, Algranati said.
Business Insider asked Nielsen for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.
But while the advertising industry has been rooting for the company’s success, Comscore has been besieged by crises over the past few years.
The company has been rocked by an SEC investigation into its accounting practices, executive departures, and growing pressure to offer new ways of measuring media. Bryan Wiener and Sarah Hofstetter, its former CEO and president, resigned in March after less than a year in their roles, with former chief operating officer Kathy Bachmann and former chief product officer Dan Hess departing soon after. The company cut 10% of its workforce in May and another 8% this past week.
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It has lost a string of other executives recently, including former chief product officer Dan Hess, SVP Naresh Rekhi, as well as director of product Jeanette Resnikoff, SVP of TV and cross-platform products Kendall McMahon, and EVP Anthony Psacharopoulos, who departed as part of last week’s layoffs. Among the departing were long-time executives from the Comscore side — leading to speculation of a Comscore-Rentrak power struggle. One source called the changes a “Rentrak takeover.”
Despite the drama, the company has made some gains, such as the aforementioned Xandr deal and several local TV contracts with the likes of Nexstar Media Group, Gray Television and E.W. Scripps Co., which industry sources see as positive momentum. Jane Clarke, CEO of the ad industry trade group the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, or CIMM, said that Comscore had the right strategy to be the third-party validator of addressable currency.
“Addressable breaks linear TV measurement and C3 and C7 ratings don’t work anymore,” she said. “The fact that Comscore is used to dealing with set-top boxes and its data goes in their favor.”
Ed Gaffney, managing partner, director of implementation research and marketplace analytics for the ad buying giant GroupM in the US, said he was glad Comscore was finally doing what the industry has been asking for years, but that it needed a full-time CEO in place as soon as possible. Fuller said that the search was ongoing.
“The troubles are kind of in the rearview mirror, but they really need a day-in and day-out CEO,” said Gaffney. “The only pillar that is missing is that they need to think of cross-platform as beyond a combination of digital and linear video, and include print and audio as well.”
Comscore, on its part, acknowledged that the path ahead would be tough, but dismissed reports of a power struggle.
“It’s not Rentrak versus Comscore; the market and customers define what we become, and that’s premium video, which has really been the driver,” Wilson said.
“The only way we’re going to remove that label or stink around the company is execution,” said Fuller.
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