Do Agencies Like the ComScore-Kantar Partnership?
WPP's stake in comScore no cause for concern among media agencies, who applaud the potential of the partnership.
Kantar and comScore have allied to provide what they're calling best-of-breed, cross-media audience- and campaign-measurement to the international realm. Kantar, WPP's data investment management decision, will work with comScore to integrate their technologies, and comScore will acquire the assets of Kantar's Internet audience measurement businesses in certain European markets. To deepen the relationship, WPP will take an approximate 20 percent stake in comScore.
There is still a major gap for advertisers and agencies to crack the media measurement code.
Overall, I think it's a very positive thing for the industry," says Justin Kuykendall, CEO of Pulpo Media. "There is still a major gap for advertisers and agencies to crack the media measurement code."
The international angle makes this a strong play, according to Ludmila Palašìn, associate director of The Media Kitchen. She says, "Since this deal involves only European audience measurement assets, we think this is terrific for our international clients. Cross-media measurement is an ongoing challenge everywhere. This agreement makes us more responsive to our international clients’ cross-media measurement challenges."
There's potential synergy in the combination, according to Alex Kalluf, director of intelligence at Figliulo&Partners. Kantar has some strong cross-platform offerings, while comScore rocks in digital. In addition, the two are complementary in international markets. Says Kalluf, "Especially in Latin America, Brazil and China, they will have a stronger offering."
There is a potential downside to this partnership, Kalluf says: "There's a lot of overlap between some of the Kantar companies and what comScore does." If the two decide to roll some of those up into a unified offering, it could lead to fewer options for agencies.
Media execs did not seem concerned about a potential for undue influence by WPP because of its stake in comScore. WPP isn't about to kill this golden data goose, they said.
"There's a lot of overlap between some of the Kantar companies and what comScore does.
"WPP is not about to invest in a partnership and then destroy one of the main the reasons the partnership was struck in the first place," Palašìn says. "If WPP influenced comScore’s research in any way, comScore would lose its primary asset—its reputation for objectivity."
One thing to watch, according to Kalluf, is whether WPP might tighten comScore's purse strings. While WPP gives Kantar a lot of independence, he notes, large corporations are more reluctant to spend money. To date, comScore has invested heavily in new products. With WPP keeping an eye on its investment, he says, "ComScore might lose the ability to innovate as fast. Something to watch is how comScore will keep innovating and coming up with new solutions."
Kuykendall thinks the deal will help companies like Pulpo Media, which, since it was acquired by Entravision last year, includes TV and radio properties as well as digital. "Advertisers are looking to see how different properties work together, and they want to see their investment across all those platforms and how each contributes to the ROI they're getting."
Nevertheless, he doesn't see the Kantar/comScore combo as the ultimate measurement solution. I think one of the reasons WPP is investing in comScore is because it's a hard problem to solve. Most advertisers and agencies would argue there is still a lot of work to be done."