Comscore Is Evolving Its Audience Targeting Tool Away From Cookies

Comscore released a solution for audience targeting and activation on Monday that relies on contextual signals rather than cookies.

Comscore released a solution for audience targeting and activation on Monday that relies on contextual signals rather than cookies.

You’d be forgiven for asking the question, “Wait, Comscore has tools for targeting?” It does. Although far more well well-known for its media measurement capabilities, Comscore has had its own suite of audience and contextual targeting solutions for the past few years.

Although far smaller than its measurement offerings, audience targeting is a quickly growing line of Comscore’s business, said Rachel Gantz, general manager for activation services at Comscore.

Until now, Comscore, like pretty much everyone, has largely depended on cookies and other traditional identifiers for targeting.

But with third-party cookies set to get their walking papers from Chrome next year, Comscore is rejiggering its activation tools to enable cookie-free targeting based on context.

Using a combination of its panel data and the contextual crawler technology it acquired from contextual analytics company Proximic in 2015, Comscore creates predictive audiences based on demographic information tied to content consumed across the web, mobile and on connected TVs.

Comscore’s panel data is the basis on which to extrapolate TV and OTT viewership segments based on context. Its contextual crawler can understand word associations and pairing across roughly 350,000 different topics.

For example, say an advertiser wants to reach people who watch football on TV.

“We can understand in a granular way what content topics those watches over index for, and not just at a broad-based level, but at a foundational level, because of our crawler,” Gantz said. “And then we translate this consumer behavior into a set of signals that can be predictive of actual consumer behavior.”

Gantz claims this methodology provides the same level of granularity that advertisers are accustomed to today – unlike other cookieless or contextual solutions.

“Advertisers still need to be able to reach refined audiences, but a lot of the cookie-free solutions coming out only focus on contextual,” she said. “We use contextual signals, but we also have panel data assets.”

GroupM’s Essence, which uses Comscore for measurement, has also been testing the new cookieless solution, and expects to spend most of this year running active experiments with multiple partners in the leadup to Google’s 2022 deadline.

“With consumer privacy taking a leading role, it has become imperative for marketers to have viable solutions to continue to reach their targets through privacy compliant targeting capabilities,” said Mike Fisher, VP of advanced TV and audio at Essence. “2021 will be the year of testing solutions that replace the cookie.”

As part of its predictive audiences offering, Comscore will also make automotive, financial and location data available for targeting across digital, mobile and CTV campaigns through partnerships with Polk (via IHS Markit), TransUnion and PlaceIQ.

Partnering with Comscore opens up a new opportunity for marketers to use location data by connecting it to contextual media consumption, said PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall.

“By understanding how consumers move in the real world, particularly now as that continues to fluctuate, marketers can bring those signals of personalization to contextual media in a privacy-friendly way,” McCall said.

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