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comScore, Inc.
Type Public Company, (NASDAQSCOR)
Founded 1999
Founder(s) Magid Abraham and Gian Fulgoni
Headquarters Reston, VA
Industry Internet information providers
Employees 700
Website comScore.com

comScore (NASDAQSCOR) is an internet marketing research company providing marketing data and services to many of the Internet's largest businesses.[1] comScore tracks all internet data on its surveyed computers in order to study online behavior.

Contents

Company history

comScore Networks was founded in August 1999 in Reston, Virginia.[2] The company was co-founded by Gian Fulgoni, who was for many years the CEO of Information Resources (one of the world's largest market research companies) and Magid Abraham, who was also an ex-IRI employee and had served as President of IRI in the mid-1990s.

Magid and Gian came up with the idea while working with one of the original investors in the company, Mike Santer, who thought up the concept of creating a very large consumer panel online to track online commerce. The problem was that the traditional methods in which companies were tracking online behavior would not work in tracking commerce, because of the lower incidence of buying online. Normal panels in tracking visitation would be around 20-30K and, with less than 2-3% of the population buying online, the panel size needed to be at least 1-2MM. They decided to build a very large panel using more aggressive recruiting methodology and managing for the error by using advanced statistical methods and controls. Years and tens of millions of dollars went into finding the best ways to measure online buying and other behaviors, plus the level of accuracy required for Fortune 1000 companies to buy.

In 2000, comScore bought certain assets and the customer agreements of PCData of Reston, Virginia. PCData was among the earliest Web measurement firms, but increasing competitive challenges (including a threat of a patent infringement lawsuit by industry pioneer Media Metrix) put PCData's future in doubt. The acquisition of PCData's large customer base helped accelerate the growth of comScore's syndicated measurement service, which was widely considered to be more accurate than the service which PCData technology previously delivered.

By 2001, Media Metrix had built a market share lead but had been unable to create a sustainable financial structure. NetRatings, its closest competitor, was armed with strong capital reserves and announced its intention to acquire and integrate Media Metrix. However, after several months, the FTC announced its intention to block the acquisition and accordingly, NetRatings canceled the transaction. comScore was subsequently able to acquire Media Metrix in a deal announced in June 2002.

Media Metrix originated as PC Meter, a business unit of market research company NPD and began publishing statistics in January 1996.[3] In July 1997, it changed its name to Media Metrix, citing the desire to track a wider variety of interactive traffic.[4] In October 1998, Media Metrix merged with its nearest rival, Relevant Knowledge.[5] The company went public as NASDAQ:MMXI in May 1999, reaching a market cap of $135 million on its first day of trading.[6] In June 2000, the company acquired Jupiter Communications for $414 million in stock and changed its name to Jupiter Media Metrix.[7] In the aftermath of the dot-com bubble collapse and associated downturn in internet marketing spending, Jupiter sold the Media Metrix service to rival comScore for $1.5 million in June 2002.[8]

On March 30, 2007, comScore announced its intent to sell shares in an initial public offering and be traded on the Nasdaq using the symbol "SCOR".[9][10]

In May 2008, comScore announced its acquisition of M:Metrics, a company measuring mobile content consumption. The transaction involved a cash payment of $44.3 million and the issue of approximately 50,000 options to purchase shares of comScore common stock to certain M:Metrics unvested option holders.[11]

Data collection and reporting

comScore maintains a group of users who have monitoring software (with brands including PermissionResearch and OpinionSquare) installed on their computers. In exchange for joining the comScore research panels, users are presented with various benefits, including computer security software, Internet data storage, virus scanning and chances to win cash or prizes.

comScore is up-front about collecting user data and the software's ability to track all of a user's internet traffic,[12] including normally secure (https://) connections used to communicate banking and other confidential information.[13]

comScore estimates that two million users are part of the monitoring program.[10] However, self-selected populations, no matter how large, may not be representative of the population as a whole. To obtain the most accurate data, comScore adjusts the statistics using weights to make sure that each population segment is adequately represented. To calculate these weights, comScore regularly recruits panelists using random digit dialing and other offline recruiting methods to accurately determine how many users are online, aggregated by geography, income and age.[14][15][16] Correcting the comScore data requires having accurate demographics about the larger pool of users. However, some comScore users are recruited without being asked to give demographic information and, in other cases, users may not be truthful about their demographics. To ensure the accuracy of the data, comScore verifies its users' demographics during the course of measuring statistical data.[17]

The corrected data is used to generate reports on topics ranging from web traffic[18] to video streaming activity[19] and consumer buying power.[20]

Criticism

Ben Edelman, a Harvard researcher, alleges[21] that there are cases where comScore software has been installed on users' computers without their knowledge. comScore admits that it was in discussion with DollarRevenue, a company known for distributing spyware. However, comScore says that no contract was ever signed, and that once it realized DollarRevenue was distributing comScore's software months later, it took steps to prevent the DollarRevenue-distributed software from sending data to comScore.[22] Stanford IT notes that the monitoring software has been bundled with file sharing program iMesh without users being aware of it,[13] although comScore's relationship with iMesh was short-lived and occurred several years ago.[22]

In the past, the software forwarded users' internet traffic through comScore proxy servers, provoking criticism among IT professionals.[13][23] As a result, several universities and banks took steps to block the proxy servers.[24][25] In response to these concerns, comScore no longer uses this technology.

Awards

comScore was selected by World Economic Forum as one of 47 innovative companies in 2007.[26]

See also

Competitors in internet market research include AdGooroo, Alexa, Nielsen Online, Hitwise, Quantcast, Gemius, and Compete, a TNS Media company.

References

  1. ^ "comScore Clients". http://www.comscore.com/about/clients.asp. Retrieved 2006-10-01.  
  2. ^ "comScore Networks Introduces "Customer Knowledge Platform" that Provides a 360° View of Customer Buying and Browsing Behavior on the Internet". comScore. 2000-09-18. http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=6.  
  3. ^ Surfing Down Memory Lane to January 1996: comScore Media Metrix Revisits First-Ever Web Site Rankings
  4. ^ "PC Meter Renames, Remakes Itself". Wired News. 1997-07-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20041201145733/www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,5357,00.html.  
  5. ^ "2 Rating Services For Web Merge". SFGate. 1998-10-13. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/10/13/BU94264.DTL.  
  6. ^ "May 7, 1999 Market Close". Motley Fool. http://www.fool.com/EveningNews/1999/EveningNews990507.htm.  
  7. ^ "Media Metrix, Jupiter merge in $414 million deal". CNET. 2000-06-27. http://news.com.com/2100-1023-242455.html.  
  8. ^ "Jupiter sells part of measurement unit". CNET. 2002-06-06. http://news.com.com/2100-1023_3-933580.html.  
  9. ^ "Web-traffic specialist comScore files for IPO". MarketWatch. 2007-04-02. http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/internet-traffic-counter-comscore-files-ipo/story.aspx?guid=%7BAB5A4648-74D2-409B-AA9A-D8B7AB025FE0%7D.  
  10. ^ a b "comScore's March 30th S-1 SEC form". SEC. 2007-03-30. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1158172/000095013307001479/w30988sv1.htm.  
  11. ^ http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=2244
  12. ^ "OpinionSquare Privacy Policy & User License Agreement". http://www.opinionsquare.com/Privacy.aspx. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  13. ^ a b c "MarketScore Spyware". Stanford Information Security Office. 2005-01-11. http://www.stanford.edu/group/security/securecomputing/2005/01/marketscore_spyware.html.  
  14. ^ Review of comScore Methodology. Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). 2001. http://www.comscore.com/method/arf.asp.  
  15. ^ "Collecting & Analyzing Web Usage Data from User Panels". comScore. 2001-04. pp. p7,9,13. http://cendi.dtic.mil/presentations/KevinGartonApr17.ppt.  
  16. ^ "comScore Methodology". http://www.comscore.com/method/method.asp. Retrieved 2006-11-02.  
  17. ^ "The “Professional Respondent” Problem In Online Survey Panels Today". comScore. 2005-06. pp. p8–10. http://www.sigmavalidation.com/tips/05_06_02_Online_Survey_Panels.ppt.  
  18. ^ "comScore Releases Worldwide Ranking of Top Web Properties". comScore. 2006-10-26. http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=1049.  
  19. ^ "comScore Releases U.S. Video Metrix Rankings". comScore. 2006-09-27. http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=1015.  
  20. ^ "Newspaper Web Site Audiences Grow Faster Than Total Internet Populations In Largest U.S. Markets". comScore. 2002-07-08. http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=81.  
  21. ^ Ben Edelman (2006-07-26). "Comscore Doesn't Always Get Consent". benedelman.org. http://www.benedelman.org/news/062907-1.html.  
  22. ^ a b Lisa Lerer (2006-12-97). "How Much Privacy?". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/security/2006/12/07/internet-security-research-tech_cx_ll_1208comscore.html.  
  23. ^ "An Analysis of the New Marketscore Proxy". Cornell's IT Security Office. 2005-05-31. http://www.cit.cornell.edu/computer/security/marketscore/technical.html.  
  24. ^ "'Researchware' watches where you click". MSNBC. 2005-04-20. http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7546554/.  
  25. ^ "ComScore: Spyware or 'researchware'?". CNET. 2004-12-20. http://news.com.com/ComScore+Spyware+or+researchware/2100-1032_3-5494004.html.  
  26. ^ "Technology Pioneers". World Economic Forum. http://www.weforum.org/en/about/Technology%20Pioneers/index.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-19.  

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