NEWS31 July 2009

ComScore calls out Nielsen over US panel size claims

Financials North America

US— ComScore has called out rival Nielsen over claims that the latter’s expanded NetView panel “will be the largest of its kind in the US”.

Magid Abraham, ComScore CEO, said on a conference call with analysts late yesterday that its main competitor was still playing catch-up, even after having boosted the size of its web measurement panel from 28,000 to 230,000 panellists.

“Nielsen issued a press release about increasing their panel size but we followed up with a communication to clients that our panel is still larger,” said Abraham. “They are aiming at where we were eight years ago.”

According to a recent blog post from chief research officer Josh Chasin, ComScore’s rival measurement system Media Metrix had an in-tab for June of 300,000 – “fully 30% more panelists than Nielsen was touting”, he said.

Abraham was bullish about the competitive landscape in discussions yesterday around the firm’s second-quarter results. “The situation between us and Nielsen remains pretty much unchanged,” he said. “We tend to win more business than we lose.”

ComScore’s customer count was up 8% at the end of June to 1,195 – though Abraham suggested the company had the potential to add a couple of thousand more with the launch of Media Metrix 360, its hybrid web measurement solution which combines panel-based person-level measurement with data from ad and website servers.

The aim of this approach is to provide more robust data on the internet’s ‘long-tail’ of niche audience websites, thus expanding the company’s potential customer base. The first 360 data will be released for the US and Canada in August, at which time data collection will start in the UK with a wider rollout to follow.

ComScore’s Q2 revenue was up 9% to $31.4m, exceeding its guidance range. However, net income was down 29% to $1.2m – or down 6% to $5.2m excluding costs associated with stock-based compensation, amortisation and acquisitions.

Subscription revenue was up 14% to $26.9m. Project revenue was up 10% on the first quarter but down year-on-year by 12% to $4.5m. International sales were flat on Q1 but rose 10% on the same period last year, with growth in Asia and Latin America “particularly strong,” said Abraham.

M:Metrics, ComScore’s mobile audience measurement arm, is the “weakest element of our business”, Abraham said. Asked how the business was trending, he said: “There are clients we are doing well with, but we are continuing to see shrinkage in that business.”

Half-year revenue was up 12% to $61.9m, while net income was down 65% to $1.4m.

  • ComScore also announced today the appointment of Ellen Marzell as senior director of marketing solutions for Europe. Marzell was most recently VP of business development for In Game Advertising Worldwide (IGA).