Net audience measurement giant ComScore announced plans yesterday to introduce a “total universe report” that they claim will enable digital publishers to track eyeballs across all the platforms and devices where they produce content - including mobile phones, apps, tablets, and even shared computers like those in Internet cafes.
But skepticism remains about how reliable ComScore’s numbers will be in this new form, and whether the product will demonstrate improved accuracy in comScore's data-gathering techniques. The company and its chief competitor Nielsen have often produced widely divergent measurements of the same content, leading to confusion in the marketplace among both ad buyers and the publishers selling them space. ComScore, for its part, defends its accuracy, claiming that it has improved greatly in recent years. "These questions persist sometimes, but we've introduced new forms of measurement that are much more accurate," says spokesperson Andrew Lipsman. "People aren't educated in terms of how far comScore has come."
Insiders at companies who are comScore customers say if the parties in a transaction based on traffic counts can agrees on comScore as a standard, it can often provide an approximate currency that is useful for doing business—to a point. “It’s accurate enough,” said one executive at a highly trafficked portal site, who asked not to be identified. “But I think that there are legitimate questions when comScore or Nielsen say there are ‘x’ million people visiting particular websites. Accurate isn’t as important to us as the ability to know that the trends are meaningful, and to leverage that to grow the things we want to grow.”