Media agency Horizon to test Comscore data as local ad currency

Media agency Horizon Media said it was working with Comscore on a test to see if Comscore’s local TV measurement data can be used as currency when planning and buying local TV ads.

Comscore would offer local buyers an alternative to Nielsen, which has long dominated the ratings industry. Comscore has been able to make inroads into local markets, signing up stations and groups of stations for its audience measurement services.

Television networks and media buyers more aggressively sought alternatives to Nielsen. Horizon has committed that 15% of its transactions in the current initial market will use an alternative to Nielsen as their currency.

While Nielsen’s undercount on the national network drew a lot of attention last year, the Media Rating Council also found that Nielsen had understated local viewing during the pandemic. Nielsen’s local rating service is not accredited, like its national rating service.

“Horizon seeks to rate Comscore on various elements of the ‘currency’ process. This ranges from the effectiveness of the data and planning tools to the stability and volatility of the data over time, as well as its ease of use in the purchase process with Strata/Freewheel. We will also evaluate the ability to seamlessly integrate first and third party targeting,” said Eric Blankfein, CORD Executive Vice President, Horizon. “We are encouraged by Comscore’s stance on all of these, enough to give them the 2022 balance to test as an alternative local video currency.”

Horizon’s testing of Comscore data will consist of two phases. First, Comscore data will be reviewed for rigor, stability, and viability. Once successful, Horizon said it will conduct a live test in the market, examining how well customer and brand goals are being met by test plans and purchases.

The live-to-market text will also allow Horizon to examine the technical and commercial viability of using Comscore’s local data.

“As brands continue to invest in local media, due to its relevance to the consumer and proximity to the point of purchase, the need for better, reliable measurement has grown with them,” said Carol. Hinnant, chief revenue officer at Comscore. “We worked through a lengthy RFP process with Horizon to prove that Comscore is the optimal provider for local currency. Comscore has been the only true local market currency facing the incumbent for over a decade and we are proud to count Horizon among those looking for a more reliable and innovative alternative. We look forward to continuing the testing phase and working with Horizon as we continue to drive innovation in local TV measurement forward.”

Comscore’s national rankings are being scrutinized as a bargaining chip by companies such as Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery. ■

About Ruben V. Albin

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