New ComScore CEO talks Google partnership, ‘Internet of Things’

ComScore, the Reston-based data firm known for tracking Web traffic, on Tuesday named a new chief executive to succeed one of its co-
founders.

Serge Matta, ComScore’s current president, will take over March 1, replacing chief executive and co-founder Magid Abraham. Abraham, in turn, will succeed co-founder Gian Fulgoni as executive chairman of the board of directors, and Fulgoni will take a new role as chairman emeritus and remain on the board.

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“This announcement represents the culmination of a thoughtful, multi-year succession planning process, and the board is confident that this is the right time to elevate Serge to the CEO role,” Abraham said in a statement.

The change comes as ComScore positions itself for a new age of connected devices, when content and advertising flows across many platforms. As part of an earnings call Tuesday, ComScore announced a partnership with Google that would embed ComScore’s audience-measurement software in Google’s DoubleClick ad service, allowing marketers to track ad campaigns in real time across devices.

In an interview, Matta said that he plans to develop metrics that can pull viewership data from various devices — smartphones, tablets, laptops, personal computers and televisions — to combat competitors such as Nielsen, a dominant player in radio and television ratings. For instance, ComScore is aggressively developing a “total video” measurement that would track video viewership across devices and content providers, he said.

(Nielsen recently proposed to license television and radio viewership data to ComScore to satisfy competition concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission, following Neilsen’s acquisition of the radio-ratings giant Arbitron. The FTC is taking public comment until Feb. 24.)

When he joined ComScore from MicroStrategy in 1999, tracking online media consumption “was actually pretty easy,” Matta recalled. “We had this idea we wanted to measure what people were viewing on their PCs. That was it. You had AOL, had the beginning of Netscape and Internet Explorer, but it was still relatively straightforward.”

Today, “there’s this crazy boom of connected devices — everyone is calling it the Internet of Things. We feel we’re in the middle. We see all of this activity, but in a way it’s challenging because the ecosystem changes all the time.”

Matta said the company could start collecting metrics from various emerging devices, such as Google Glass or FitBit, the wearable fitness trackers, but that the more lucrative opportunity might be in measuring advertising campaigns across those devices.

“As these things grow, you’d think companies would try to put advertising on these things,” Matta said. “There’s a reach — measuring content on the devices, and measuring the advertising on these devices. That’s the kind of path we will take.”

On the same day it announced its change in leadership, ComScore reported that its 2013 losses had narrowed to $2.3 million, or 7 cents a share, from $11.8 million, or 35 cents a share, in 2012. The company reported fourth- quarter revenue of $76.5 million, up 15 percent since the same period last year, and profit of $170,000, reversing a $1.6 million loss for fourth quarter in 2012.

Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community.

 
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