CNN Signs On With ComScore For Cross-Media Measurement

CNNCNN is signing on with comScore’s syndicated measurement service Xmedia, a competitive offering to Nielsen’s Total Audience measurement.

Xmedia is designed to help media companies understand their cross-platform audiences by tracking unduplicated reach across TV, digital, set-top box and mobile properties.

CNN now claims to have a total unduplicated audience of 174 million across TV, desktop and mobile.

Because the cable network – among the first to standardize on Xmedia – is a longtime comScore digital measurement subscriber, it made sense for the programmer to extend its relationship, said Robin Garfield, SVP of research and scheduling for CNN.

“Cross-platform measurement is incredibly important for us as CNN makes huge investments in digital,” she said. “We want to understand what’s going on from a consumer perspective, so we can build our business and editorial platforms accordingly, and inform advertisers.”

As the upfront season approaches, CNN hopes to show that its cross-platform audiences add incremental reach and actually supplement live TV. In so doing, the network has a viable way to counter claims that TV viewership is on the decline to buyers.

For example, early tests showed that average monthly hours watching live CNN broadcasts increased as people viewed CNN content from both the CNN mobile app and desktop properties.

Audiences tuning in on TV, desktop and mobile watched an average of 5.1 hours per month of CNN live. By contrast, single-channel viewers watched an average of 3.6 hours of CNN live. 

The broadcaster hopes to leverage another benefit as well: As comScore connects census-based data through its merger with TV measurement service Rentrak, there is more opportunity for programmers like CNN to append their first-party viewership insights to other data sources to help advertisers target more specific audiences (e.g., beyond basic age and sex) regionally.

“The core of this [Xmedia partnership] is multiplatform measurement, but we’re excited to see how we can link cross-platform insights up with our internal data sets,” Garfield said.

The Emerging TV Media Plan

Even though TV often is purchased separately from mobile and other digital channels, comScore chairman and co-founder Gian Fulgoni noted clear synergies between these disparate buys.

“From the perspective of the agency and advertiser, you really need to know if you’re reaching new eyeballs or delivering incremental impressions for people who move from one platform to the next,” he said.

Fulgoni added that comScore’s execution of cross-media measurement centers on digital expertise, and emphasized the inadequacy of panels in measuring media across channels.

“[Cross-platform measurement] requires cooperation from content owners to tag their own properties, look over the data and validate it,” Fulgoni said.

While CNN is among the first to deploy Xmedia, comScore is working with other early broadcast partners that have not yet been named.

Streaming video company Hulu, which also works with Nielsen, has conducted similar studies as CNN using comScore’s cross-platform measurement in the past, as has ESPN under the earliest iteration of Xmedia – known as Project Blueprint – in 2013.

While Nielsen and comScore are rivals, measurement deals are not mutually exclusive, and video publishers and broadcasters often use offerings as complements.

For instance, Snapchat’s vertical video ads rely on Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings for measurement, despite many Snapchat Discover partners using comScore.

“No one product disqualifies another,” CNN’s Garfield added. “We’re interested in competition and all of the measurement sources out there. We need to educate the marketplace as to how these different platforms work together – what the value is of Snapchat or, frankly, CNN’s mobile app, desktop website or television.”

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