- August 2, 2012

MRC Accredits Comscore vCE Validation, Including Cross-Domain iFrame Measurement

Josh Chasin
Josh Chasin
Chief Research Officer

Today Comscore announced that the validation component of validated Campaign Essentials™ (vCE™) has received MRC accreditation. vCE is the first and only service to have been audited and accredited under the IAB’s new  Ad Verification Guidelines.

This is an important milestone for Comscore and reflects our firm commitment to innovation; to transparency and disclosure; and, to assuring that advertisers and agencies have the analytic tools in place to evaluate digital as a seamless part of a holistic, optimized multi-platform media plan.

A Commitment to Innovation
When we formally entered the ad verification space last year with the acquisition of AdXpose, we knew that there was a “Great White Whale” looming in the measurement and reporting on ad visibility: the unfriendly, cross-domain iframe. At the time we acquired AdXpose, none of the ad verification services were able to see into such iframes — meaning that industry ad verification data was typically based on technology that was unable to detect upwards of 60% of the inventory.

Shortly after the AdXpose acquisition, our engineers developed a proprietary, patented and patent-pending solution to address the broader verification challenge, including the unfriendly iframe problem. In fact, when Comscore conducted a trial of vCE across 12 major advertisers, those campaigns included all iframes, including cross-domain iframes.

Over the past 9 or 10 months, we’ve had a lot of meetings with advertisers, agencies, publishers, and key industry associations, where we talked about our cross-domain iframe solution. More than once, we were met with skepticism and disbelief; it was as if we’d just said we’ve killed Sasquatch! The challenge of the unfriendly iframe had truly assumed almost mythic proportions.

To this day, there are skeptics in the industry who do not believe that the thing we claim to do — to see into the unfriendly iframe — is possible.

That’s a big reason why this MRC accreditation is especially gratifying. Because now you don’t have to take our word that we can, indeed, see into the cross-domain iframe; you can take theirs.* The MRC auditors specifically (and with diligence) reviewed and tested the technology, implementation, and performance of our cross-domain solution. It’s been thoroughly vetted. It’s accredited. It works.

A Commitment to Transparency
The Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative, a joint initiative of IAB, the 4As and the ANA, has published five core pillars for digital measurement. The first, of course, was to switch from a served to a viewable impression standard, which we’ve now done.

Increasingly, as the digital medium matures, we believe that the metrics that drive the business must be open, transparent, and auditable. Comscore is committed to providing this level of transparency. Getting the validation component of vCE audited and accredited was a company priority from the CEO on down, and while you may not believe that it takes a village to raise a child, I can assure you, it takes a whole company to accredit a measurement service! The credit for the vCE Validation accreditation is rightfully spread across hundreds of my hard-working colleagues.

Perhaps more important though, we have now fully baked auditability into our corporate DNA. While our work with the MRC has naturally led the way, the MRC is by no means the only audit body we work with. Just this year we’ve worked with The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) here in the U.S.; ABC UK in the United Kingdom; CESP in France; and both MESA and OJD in Spain. In fact, this is the fourth audit we’ve passed in 2012, preceded by the ABC’s certification of the Comscore GSMA offering in the UK; that same organization’s certification of vCE; and OJD’s audit of Comscore Direct and the census data we collect as part of the Media Metrix offering in Spain. I am loath to speak about audits in process, but multiple audits — in the U.S. and around the world — are ongoing.

A Commitment to Multi-Platform Analytics
Comscore was founded with a mission to “measure the digital world.” Thirteen years on, it has become axiomatic that all media are becoming digital — this becomes clearer each time we read the tablet edition of our favorite magazine, or watch the latest viral video clip on our smartphone.

There has long been a push in the digital space to make the medium “look more like television” in order to make it hospitable to brand advertisers. In truth though, television has been on a long and inexorable march to becoming more like digital — indeed, to becoming digital. Thanks to the digital set top box, already the majority of TV ad impressions in the U.S. are distributed — served — digitally into the consumer’s home. And we all know that addressable TV advertising is coming, and that very soon we’ll all be able to watch any program we want, on any screen, on demand.

Comscore is committed to engineering all our products and services in a fashion that makes them forward-compatible. With respect to tools like Media Metrix and vCE, which have widespread marketplace adoption, this means a future where PC-accessed Internet, online video, mobile, and TV data will all exist together, so that media planners will have the same freedom in selecting media vehicles as the consumers they seek to reach.

The accreditation of vCE Validation marks a significant milestone on that multi-platform journey. Advertisers want to be able to move dollars between media platforms with a clear understanding of how those dollars are working. The due diligence underpinning the 3MS initiative has made clear that to advertisers, there is a disconnect between “I bought an impression” and “someone had an ‘opportunity to see’ (OTS) that impression.” This disconnect has been, whether we like to hear it or not, a major advertiser objection in moving money to digital. The accreditation of vCE Validation is an important first step in assuring advertisers that digital media can deliver the same assurance of OTS as TV and other media. With this assurance, advertisers will be more inclined to move ad spend back and forth across platforms.

As Comscore introduces multi-platform analytics throughout our product suite, the significance of this development will become increasingly apparent, as advertisers, agencies and publishers work together to find the best ways for advertising to deliver on advertiser objectives, regardless of platform.

Comscore’s commitment to you is that we will continue to innovate, in as transparent a fashion as possible, as we build analytic solutions that allow planners, buyers and sellers of media to act with nimbleness and confidence in designing and delivering compelling messages to consumers across platforms.

* Comscore's accreditation currently includes our ability to see into unfriendly cross-domain iFrames, excluding those occurring in Webkit browsers (i.e., Chrome and Safari.) For unfriendly cross-domain iFrames appearing in Webkit browsers, we are able to project viewability based on the viewability of campaign-specific, like placements in unfriendly iFrames in non-webkit browsers. This projection for webkit browsers is included in the vCE Audience module, which is now under review by the MRC, and is coming to the Validation module once audited by the MRC.