Comscore Moves Into Next Phase Of Turnaround With New CEO Bill Livek

Comscore named board member and former Rentrak CEO Bill Livek as its CEO, replacing interim chief Dale Fuller, the company announced Tuesday in its quarterly earnings report.

Comscore earned $94.3 million in Q3, an 8% decline from the same period last year. Revenue was also down sequentially, after posting $96.9 million in Q2, which was down 4.4% from 2018.

The Comscore CEO announcement came less than a week after Criteo, another beleaguered ad tech company, poached Nielsen’s chief commercial officer, Megan Clarken, as its new CEO.

You have to give it to the Nielsen, Comscore and Rentrak vets, who have taken on the most bruising jobs in the industry at the moment.

The revenue picture isn’t pretty, but Livek told investors that the business is on track to return to growth and positive cash flow sometime next year. (Comscore had a net loss of $10.6 million this quarter.)

The company has had major headcount reduction. Livek said that Fuller, the interim CEO, trimmed $40 million in compensation costs this year, and those savings will plump up the bottom line in 2020.

Comscore will need to reinvest those savings in critical parts of its business, Livek said. It’s banking on growth in its cross-platform and digital products.

Most of Comscore’s revenue loss this quarter came from a decline in its syndicated digital product, which is used for measuring buys across TV and the web. It competes with ad tech players such as Moat, IAS, DoubleVerify and Comscore’s usual foil, Nielsen.

It is critical that Comscore turns around the digital syndication network because it isn’t banking on local TV revenue, which actually did grow year over year. The company needs to sell cross-platform services and have customers adopt its digital ratings like they have in television.

But as streaming video becomes the new normal, video advertising platforms are not adopting TV-style currencies. Advanced TV buys are more often based on digital KPIs or a performance metric like store sales, not a third-party rating service.

“There are a number of smaller publishers that no longer sell their ad inventory on their own. They became part of the programmatic networks,” Livek told investors when asked about the digital syndication product.

“Has that run its course?” he said. “We actually don’t know.”

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