SEC Charges Comscore And Former CEO Matta With Fraud; OpenAP To Start Buying Ads

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Settling The Score

The US Securities and Exchange Commission charged Comscore and its former CEO, Serge Matta, with engaging in a fraudulent scheme to inflate its revenue and making false or misleading statements to investors and auditors. Read the SEC release. Between 2014 and 2016, Comscore negotiated the exchange of data sets with no cash consideration (meaning it wasn’t paid), but would claim revenue on the fair value of the deal, even though it hadn’t sold a thing. The practice inflated Comscore’s revenue by about $50 million, according to the SEC. Comscore and Matta settled the case with penalties of $5 million and $700,000, respectively, and reimbursements from Matta of $2.1 million from the sale of stock and incentive-based compensation. Comscore’s stock dropped by more than 4% after the news broke, and at the close of the market was trading at $2.25, down from more than $30 in 2017.

Close A Door, OpenAP A Window

OpenAP, a TV audience consortium backed by Fox, ViacomCBS and NBCUniversal, is charting a new course in the fast-moving TV data market. WarnerMedia was one of the founding members of OpenAP in 2017 (though at the time it was just Turner), but dropped out this year because AT&T is in the process of connecting its own media and advertising businesses. OpenAP added a new CEO, David Levy, in May, and just announced an overhaul of its leadership team. And now OpenAP is planning to spin out as an independent joint venture, as it goes from merely assembling audience segments to actually buying ads, Levy tells Variety. He also touted a new partnership with Ampersand (née NCC Media), a TV sales consortium backed by Comcast, Cox and Charter. “Look, it’s always difficult to work together as competitors,” Levy said. “What you want is a group of companies that are as closely aligned as possible so you can move forward quickly.” More.

The Silver Screen’s Silver Spoon

The Emmy ratings are in and they are … bad. With 6.9 million viewers this year, the award show’s live audience dropped by about a third since last year. It’s hardly news at this point, though, that award show broadcasts are falling year over year. Yet, broadcaster ad sales haven’t slumped in the same way thanks to an interesting, and perhaps not-all-that sustainable, dynamic: Audience loss creates inventory scarcity, and there’s still value in getting in front of a live, concurrent audience. “It’s the perverse logic of scarcity and television advertising,” one Hollywood executive tells NBC’s Dylan Byers. The appeal of live television content coupled with a willingness among premium advertisers to pay for their time on the biggest screen in the living room has bolstered the broadcast industry for a long time. “But, at some point, you’re talking about extinction,” the exec predicts. “The advertisers just won’t go along with it anymore.” Byers’ newsletter has more (h/t @RichLightShed).

Long-form FTW

In a world where marketers can barely find a window of more than six seconds to jam their ads, Snapchat says it will extend ad breaks to up to three minutes on the platform. Snap has had a 10-second commercial cap on its platform since 2014, with an option for viewers to swipe up to watch a longer message. Along with the much longer video option, Snap is working on a way to target viewers that have a higher propensity for watching long-form content with its longer video ads, Ad Age reports. The ads are still skippable, but they give advertisers a much bigger creative canvas for digital than they’ve had in the past. “Marketers are getting much more sophisticated in the way that they use the platform,” said David Roter, Snap’s VP of global agency partnerships, at Advertising Week in New York City. More.

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