Six Questions: Gian Fulgoni

Gian Fulgoni, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of comScore, has spent 40 years measuring and analyzing the use of digital devices and the consumption of digital content. He'll be our featured keynote interview at The Upstream Seller Forum on June 24th in New York. This is an edited email interview; for the complete, unedited transcript, go here.

1. For better or worse, ComScore has been closely identified over the past 20 years with the measurement and verification of web traffic and audiences. As the herd moves to mobile devices and addressable TV, how much does that challenge your position?

Slightly more than 50% of consumer time online today is spent using a smartphone or tablet. Interestingly, however, there's no evidence that time spent on desktops has declined -- just its share of time. It's not a zero sum game. It's now clear that the more Internet-enabled devices someone has, the more time they spend online.

Beyond just digital, we are also now able to measure across traditional media platforms, including TV and radio...something that ESPN first asked us to solve more than two years ago. The system is now in the process of being syndicated beyond ESPN and we have high hopes for its potential.

This week's Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic Advertising Systems, an advertising technology company focused on delivering innovative software that streamlines and automates media workflow for marketers, their advertising agencies, and publishers.

2. I've heard it said that your VCE tools (and Nielsen's competitive OCR standard) are leading us toward a multi-device GRP. That's too simplistic, isn't it?

comScore is intent on providing multi-device GRP measurement. In fact, we do that today...But there's another dimension to the GRP that I think is critical and which we also provide. One can't just measure the audience for each device in a silo. One needs to know the unduplicated audience across every combination of devices at the content level. And build this knowledge into the GRP metric.

3. ComScore lit up the IAB Annual meeting a couple of years ago with a call to arms about viewability. What's improved since then, if anything?

(Because early) viewability metrics focused on the media buyers, it initially put media sellers at a disadvantage in negotiations...So we responded to the need from the sell-side for viewability tools to assist in optimizing inventory (which) has helped re-establish a basis on which buyers and sellers can both derive the benefits of optimizing around viewable inventory...Today, I think that viewability is on its way to becoming accepted as a key metric that can help put digital on an equal footing with TV.

4. Programmatic, exchange-based ad trading has been with us for close to five years now. Are you impressed yet?

I'm very impressed by the ability of programmatic to lower transaction cost...but it also comes with some of its own challenges...(A) big issue with the the prevalence of non-human traffic . We've seen the in-view rates for ad impressions be much lower on the exchanges than on the premium sites, with a large proportion of that being caused by ads being delivered to bots not people. The answer there might be for the buyers on the exchanges to insist on minimum viewability rates.

5. The biggest existential threat to a healthy digital ad ecosystem is....what?

I think the actions of legislators could have an unanticipated collateral chill on the industry.

6. Tell us something that brings perspective and clarity to this crazy, seat-of-the-pants digital media world.

Ted McConnell at P&G once said: "We need to understand the truths that transcend change." I think that's a great point in today's dynamic digital media world. When all is said and done, we're still trying to communicate with consumers so as to build and enhance brands. Yes, digital provides us with many new media capabilities, but in addition I think we need to remember the marketing lessons of yesteryear that still apply today.

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