February 6, 2013, 5:30 PM

comScore unveils new mobile measurement services

Firm gauges activity of 1 million smartphone and 400,000 tablet users, it says.

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Web and mobile measurement firm comScore Inc. has expanded its mobile measurement assets, aiming to better measure the multi-platform behaviors of today’s consumers, many of whom own a PC and one or more mobile devices. ComScore now can measure data on the activity of more than 1 million smartphone users, 400,000 tablet owners, and 150,000 households with connected home devices such as game consoles and smart TVs. These large sample sizes help comScore’s multi-platform audience service and ad campaign ratings service provide granular insights, the firm says.

“ComScore’s two-year focus on investing in, and building out, this massive, unmatched data is now enabling us to turn multi-platform complexity into actionable data for our clients,” says Serge Matta, comScore president of commercial solutions.

The key ingredient to comScore’s mobile measurement is what it calls “census-level” data. ComScore works with thousands of web sites, mobile web sites and mobile apps, electronically tagging all pages with comScore code. These tags record and transmit to comScore all activity, by device—an electronic census. ComScore combines this data with data gleaned directly from a panel of 10,000 smartphone owners and panels of tablet users and connected home device users, and applies statistical algorithms to reach its results. ComScore declines to reveal the number of users on the latter two panels. ComScore says the mobile census measurements enable the firm to build on the panel measurements, applying statistical algorithms to measure the activity of more than 1 million smartphone users, 400,000 tablet owners, and 150,000 households with connected home devices. And then it extrapolates from that data to make market estimates.

ComScore also uses web census data from its myriad tags and statistical algorithms to inform its measurements on PC users. It has a panel of 1 million PC users in the U.S. who have agreed to allow comScore to track their online activity.

ComScore says the benefits of using substantial sample sizes from its multi-platform data sources include:

  • Accurate determination of cross-platform audience overlap across multiple device types.
  • The ability to scale multi-platform reporting to an expanding number of devices without the sample size constraints of using a single-source panel of individuals who use a PC and all other devices.
  • Detailed reporting of media consumption (the viewing of digital content) for a large number of media properties.
  • Enhanced geographic reporting of audiences and campaign delivery by local market.

Understanding cross-platform audience overlap is important, given that consumers can be accessing sites and apps from multiple devices, says Andrew Lipsman, vice president of industry analysis at comScore. Mathematically speaking, the odds of the same consumer being on both comScore’s 1 million-member PC panel and 10,000-member smartphone panel are slim, but the odds of a consumer visiting a web site from both a PC and a smartphone are much higher, Lipsman says. Hence the need for census data to help provide an unduplicated measurement, he says.

“You might have a little bit of overlap between two panels, but not going to the third and then fourth panels. There’s the notion of having a single-source panel populated by people active on all four platforms, but that becomes very impractical very quickly,” Lipsman says. “The census-level data allows us to have a lot of common touch-points between each of the different platforms to see where that overlap is, and use that to understand the duplication factor.”

One thing comScore already has learned from its mobile measurements is that the average top 50 web site receives an average incremental audience via mobile (smartphone and tablet) of 29% compared to their PC-only audience. “These site publishers and media companies are reaching a certain number of people via mobile channels who do not engage with them on PC at all,” Lipsman explains. “So if I’m reaching 10 million unique visitors via PC and my total unduplicated multi-platform audience is 12.9 million, then my incremental mobile audience is 29%.”

Lipsman also says that comScore has learned through the new mobile measurements that one in three digital media minutes are spent via mobile and four of five mobile media minutes (including time on social networks) spent on smartphones occur via apps.

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