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Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders should short their stock)

1/23/2010
From my email newsletter today…. if you want these first, sign up for it!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jason Calacanis
Date: Sat, Jan 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM
Subject: Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders
should short their stock)

Jason’s List: Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why
traders should short their stock)
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Comscore is the technology industry’s biggest bully, and today I’m
calling for an industry-wide boycott of their services.

I’m asking journalist and bloggers to stop covering their stats, I’m
asking advertisers to not use their services, and finally, I’m asking
startup companies to not support their new and widely reported on
“$10,000 to get your stats correct” extortion ring.

If I was a stock trader I would short the stock–but I’m not–so I
won’t (I keep my money in bonds and angel investments for the record).
Also, if you own Comscore shares, I’m not going to tell you that you
should sell them, but if I were an analyst–and I’m not–I would
probably tell folks to sell every share they had, and as quickly as
possible.

Additionally, I’m asking Comscore to drop their “pay for correct
stats” model in the next ten days.

Let’s get into why.

Comscore’s Reign of Terror
————————
For over a decade, I’ve railed against our industry’s leading metrics
company ComScore with little result.

It all started when I was a journalist in the 90s for the Silicon
Alley Reporter. I listened to company after company from Silicon Alley
to Silicon Valley complain about how ComScore’s method of counting
traffic websites, via a sample of users, was incorrect.

People couldn’t understand why the internet industry, with it’s
ability to track traffic perfectly, would ever adopt the failed
sample-based methods used on television and radio. Comscore’s ideas
were antiquated and unnecessary.

Entrepreneurs would show me their internal stats, which were typically
three to five times larger than Comscore’s numbers, and beg me to
correct them in the Silicon Alley Reporter.

However, I noticed a pattern: the big companies didn’t complain about Comscore.

Why?

Well, from what multiple people shared with me, you simply had to
follow the money. According to these folks it was an unspoken truth
for years that if you paid Comscore they fixed your numbers, and if
you were a small company and didn’t, well, you suffered. Comscore
would probably deny this, but their recent “pay to play” product shows
their true stripes.

They screwed me at Weblogs, Inc.
————————
It wasn’t until I started Weblogs, Inc. that I really felt the sting
of not participating in the Comscore protection racket. You see,
advertisers love Comscore and they make advertising buys based on it.

Our small, but growing blogs, were under reported month after month
and Comscore basically told me to pound salt when I complained. It
cost me money, and I promised myself that if I could ever support
another service that wasn’t based on payola I would.

Here you can see a smoking gun from 2005 when Comscore did a “study”
on blogs with Gawker Media as a sponsor. Interestingly, Gawker’s blogs
did really well in the study. The only problem was that Comscore’s
numbers were different than the SiteMeter traffic that Gawker and
Weblogs Inc. were publishing at the time.

Denton privately admitted to me he support Comscore because he had to
because of their reputation in the advertising industry. He thought I
should bite the bullet as well and get in bed with the bullies. Not my
style, sorry.

[[ Some links from 2005 Comscore: Show us the data or get out of Dodge
http://bit.ly/4I7S6i and ClickZ: http://www.clickz.com/3526851 - Fred
Wilson throws me under the bus: http://bit.ly/8BpFnh ]]

I publicly complained about Comscore but no one would really listen.
Actually Jeff Jarvis did support me: http://bit.ly/8zW0GF

My good friend Fred Wilson, who had invested in the firm, turned away
and watched the bullies he invested in pummel me when I complained
about Comscore. Fred is outspoken and an advocate of startups–except
with Comscore. He’s turned a blind eye while letting his huge venture
return in Comscore color his objectivity. In fact, it must be obvious
to Fred that Comscore is, in fact, holding back his other startup
investments by extorting money from them!

Fred’s been an amazing supporter of mine over the years, but I’ve
never been able to get over the fact that he invested in and supported
these guys. Fred’s continued support of this company is unconscionable
at this point. He needs to come out and say that Comscore charging
$10,000 for this product is a pure shake down.

Do it Fred… you know you want to! :-)

ComScore Tries to Buy Me Off
————————
This summer the tough guys at Comscore approached me with a
clandestine deal after I continued to publicly complain about their
methods. The message was clear: if I stopped criticizing them and
publicly supported their server data measurement program they would
not charge me. The $10,000 it would cost a year for this service would
be free for me if I threw my fellow entrepreneurs under the bus.

Their email to me included something out of the a Sopranos episode:
“Normally there is a cost to implement, but in this case we will
gladly waive the charge if you are interested.” Yeah, and if you’re
not interested perhaps you would like to come on a fishing trip with
us this weekend.

You bastards think that after a *decade* of me trying to stop your
extortion you can by me off by simply waiving some fees? I could
easily pay the $10,000 fee today but I will never give you guys a
dime. I will remember what you did to me when I was coming up forever.

I’d rather lose half my revenue from advertising as Mahalo grows from
a top 1,000 site (2007), to the top 400 sites (2008) and now a top 200
site (2009), and eventually even a top 50 site I hope (2011?)–than
give you even one ounce of my support.

I wrote back: “You guys are evil for charging companies–I would never
support you. Quantcast and Google are going to crush you guys…. And
I’m telling everyone I know to support Quantcast.”

They never contacted me again.

Comscore formalizes their extortion ring
————————
This week you may have read over at the excellent “All Things D” that
Comscore is now willing to do real metrics on your website if you give
them $10,000 a year. They claim this is to pay for their servers.
More: http://bit.ly/6Fqrhe

This after they spent the last decade criticizing the direct
measurement methods of their competitors like Quantcast and Google
Analytics as being flawed! Now they say pixel tracking–actual
measurement on the server side–is the best method. What a bunch of
slim buckets.

Could it be that enough publishers and advertisers have told you to go
f– yourself in the past year?

Could it be that Quantcast has a product that is 100x better than your
service and it’s FREE?

Could it be that Compete.com is
secretly testing a server-side testing
method like Quantcast’s and is about to kick your ass?

From where I sit, this is Comscore’s desperate Hail Mary pass to try
and save their dying protection racket. Comscore has ZERO value when
Google Analytics, Compete.com and Quantcast allow you to publicly and
freely track your stats.

Bullies, Ethics & Your Part
————————
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I learned that when you or your
friends were being bullied there was really only one solution to the
problem: punch the bully directly in the face as hard as you can the
second they approached you. Like really, the second they come at
you–the second the first word comes out of their mouth–punch them in
the face. Don’t let them even finish their sentence. If they say “I
want your milk money” your fist should make contact right around the
“want” mark.

BANG!

At a young age I tested this technique and it resulted in a couple of
multi-day suspensions from school and black eyes, but it is a
life-long strategy for success that has never failed me. Do not let
yourself or your friends get bullied–ever. Even if you get your ass
kicked, at least you got your shot in and you held your ground.

When someone from Comscore approaches, you should tell them to go
hell. (Note: do not literally punch them in the face–I’m not
advocating physical violence here, I’m advocating voting with your
dollar.)

I put up a good fight for a decade but made little progress and
frankly got my ass kicked by Comscore in the Weblogs, Inc. days.
However, their obnoxious behavior has finally been publicly exposed.
This means that we–as an industry–can finally run this bully out of
town.

Again, here is what I’m asking for in the Comscore Boycott. Feel free
to republish this article in whole at your blog.

The Comscore Boycott: Play Your Part!
======================
1. Startups: Do NOT pay a single penny to Comscore–ever.
2. Startups who are getting this program for free (I suspect a good
number): Opt out and tell Comscore to f– themselves.
3. Press & Bloggers: Please do not run Comscore’s inaccurate numbers,
and please expose their extortion ring.
4. Advertisers: Do not use Comscore to plan your media buys: use the
free and more accurate Quantcast.
5. Google: Please release your version Comscore killer (based on
Quantcast’s model), or better yet PLEASE BUY QUANTCAST!
6. Compete.com: Please release your Comscore killer.
7. Stock traders & Analysts: Please think deeply about the potential
revenue destruction that Comscore could be facing.
8. Fred Wilson: publicly state that you do not agree with ComScore’s
mafia-like methods.
9. Republish this email at your blog.
10. If you have information on Comscore that should be exposed send it
to me in confidence (say anonymous up top)

To My “Friends” at Comscore
—————————————
You know I’m right.

As such, I’m asking for complete and unconditional surrender. Make
your tracking pixel program 100% free in the next 10 days or the
boycott will continue.

If you’re a current or former executive at Comscore and you have an
opinion on this please send me your thoughts in confidence, and I will
republish them to the list without your name.

If you’re a current employee who can’t deal with this any more, please
add me on LinkedIn and ask for a LinkedIn introduction to the Google
Analytics, Compete.com or Quantcast teams. I will gladly forward
talented people from Comscore on to companies I think are more
ethical.

All the best,

Jason

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  • http://www.josheinstein.com Josh Einstein

    Pretty good post. I had quite a similar disdain for Handango who used similar tactics when they started selling Tablet PC software. Obviously that’s peanuts compared to this but anyway. Damn those slim buckets trying to by you off!

  • Anoynomous

    Jason,

    I have to say, was this really necessary? I understand your hatred for this company, but it doesn’t sound like to me they are doing anything illegal. Yeah, you may not agree with what they are doing, but it doesn’t mean you need to go and publicly bash them. Kind of brings your credibility and respect level down. Sorry. I don’t know anything about Comscore nor am I affiliated with them. But this article leaves a bad taste in my mouth about you as a person.

  • http://ratherbflyin.wordpress.com Ratherbflyin

    I’ll admit I am not familiar with Comscore, but then I am only just beginning to get involved with creating my own web site and have a lot to learn and a long way to go before I would ever need to have accurate numbers for my site. I certainly won’t be paying anyone for those numbers either. I will certainly post a copy of this to my own blog, and add a link to my Facebook profile as well. Keep up the great work, Jason!

  • http://nermalthehun.posterous.com Richard Mackey

    I pretty much parrot what Ratherbflyin says in his comment, and would add that from what I have heard from you on TWiT and your Twitter posts that I think you are a trusted source on this matter. I also will be re-posting to my blog, and when RMCS.info is up and running, Quantcast will be given a serious look when the need arises.

  • http://richardmuscat.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/calacanis-scores/ Calacanis Scores? « Serious Simplicity

    [...] leave a comment » Just read Jason’s diatribe today on Comscore. [...]

  • http://ratherbflyin.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/call-to-boycott-comscore/ Call to Boycott Comscore « Ratherbflyin's Ramblings

    [...] to Boycott Comscore Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo.com, has issued a call to boycott Comscore. I will be the first to admit that I am not terribly familiar with Comscore, but if half of what [...]

  • Scott Salomon

    Comscore has no future; the emperor truly has no clothes, from their 10Q:

    “The foundation of our platform is data collected from our comScore panel of more than two million Internet users worldwide who have granted us explicit permission to confidentially measure their Internet usage patterns, online and certain offline buying behavior and other activities. By applying advanced statistical methodologies to our panel data, we project consumers’ online behavior for the total online population and a wide variety of user categories.”

    50% fall in stock price Monday.

  • Max

    Jason –

    Man the turrets! I run rather large site (top 500) and have been sick of these a-holes for years! Their numbers are absolutely wrong, and cause me pain every month. I 100% support your efforts, and will continure to ignore the thugs at ComScore.

  • http://www.videosift.com Brian Houston

    I’m with you- down with the traffic scoring mafia. It seems that Google could destroy them in one fell swoop by exposing an optional “public stats” section of Analytics. I don’t like the idea of running more than one tracking stats program if I already have GA.

  • Darshan

    Great points Jason!

    Just one thing – I would advise against telling people to short the stock (sell it – yes, short it – no)
    Am only saying as inevitably mass short interest on the stock, will only be picked up as a short squeeze candidate by the quants. Ultimately, it will hurt those that are short and they could lose serious money.

    So sell for sure and hurt the company that way. Don’t hurt yourself by shorting it outright.

    Everything else – agree with!

  • http://tjoozey.com/?p=2056 Why We Should Boycott ComScore

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  • http://avc.com fred wilson

    i left several comments to this post on jason’s posterous blog.

    http://jasoncalacanis.posterous.com/why-we-should-boycott-comscore-and-perhaps-wh

  • http://www.guildlaunch.com/ Stephen Johnston

    Without a doubt “panel” metrics for websites represent a very old
    technique. There is definitely competition in this are and I
    wouldn’t expect this “pay to play” method to get as much traction
    now as it might have in the past.

  • Darren Lehane

    Excellent piece, Jason.

    Will definitely share it and keep it all in mind.

  • Gil penchina

    Here’s one vote of support. We have been offered a 3 month trial – and I’m going to turn it down. I agree – we’ll be using quantcast going forward.

    Gil@Wikia

  • E K

    I can verify that everything Jason talks about in relation to Comscore’s tracking methods and their accuracy being a huge fail. However, if you pay them, they will all of the sudden be much more accurate.

    A huge racket if I’ve ever seen one.

  • http://RaceJelly.com Kenneth Holland

    I’m with you Jason! Just tweeted your article. :)

  • http://www.blackysky.com Ricky

    Finally we can stop this internet mafia now…. I don’t say it is a bad company but their practices need a major update….. It is time to break this 90’s model

  • benaltieri

    Jason, love this thread. If anyone can pull this off, its you.
    I agree 100 percent – Comscore is the suck. But to that # 2 “Anonymous” commenter: Really? Anonymous, are you Effing kidding me? Really? Really? Dude? Really? Did you read what Jason said? Comscore is exposed for known unethical practices, for years. Nothing illegal? Really? If payola is not illegal, then maybe it should be. Infact, payola and extortion might as well be one and the same. Anonymous, have some fricking balls. Next time, put your name on your posts like that #2 comment. It makes you look scared. Are you afraid? Well, you know what? Go to the bathroom, right now. Look at yourself in the mirror. Repeat after me: “You are wrong. Dead wrong!! How the hell can you live with yourself, saying something like that # 2 comment, above?”
    I will post this on my blog, FB and Twitter.
    Rock on Jason.
    - Peace Out, Bro

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/zotter E. David Zotter

    >>People couldn’t understand why the internet industry, with it’s ability to track traffic perfectly

    Wait…what? Where is this silver bullet technology that you refer to?

    Server logs have issues with undercounting and over counting due to things caches, proxies, and dozens of other reasons.

    Is a tracking widget/script like Google Analytics perfect? No.

    Is using self harvested web server logs an answer? Nope.

    Is buying data from a handful of ISP’s perfect? Doubt it.

    Is a panel based methodology perfect? Of course not. However, there are things that you can’t track with other methods…..such as purchase transactions..….AND a panel based methodology does not require a site to be modified to collect huge amounts of extremely useful data. Panels are still very relevant because you can holistically see what else an individual is up to….. no google analytics account is going to do this.

    Obviously a hybrid approach that includes one or more of the above approaches is best for tracking smaller sites that are off the radar. I mean, if there is a sample of people in the millions, and your site is only a small blip on the radar, odds are that your site doesn’t have a mass audience yet. Combining with multiple data sources seems like a good solution to get a view of a larger set of sites. BTW, Red Sheriff was taking a hybrid approach 10 years ago (panel + local census count). I believe they were acquired by NetRatings.

    comScore seems to be taking an even more innovative approach to solve a difficult problem – counting sites with small traffic accurately.

    As best I can tell, no one has solved this problem…..

    Surely you’ll agree that we like in a multi-mode world. Online is growing fast, but TV, Radio, and Print are still important… albeit the world is changing fast.
    I loved Wired Magazine Gadget preview sections each month, but I liked it better when the idea was improved with Gizmodo…er ah…and then Engadget. The fact that an ad currency existed allowed you to make out in your sale….Surely AOL took into account numbers from comScore and others at the time?

    Long story short, Quantcast and Compete have legs. It will be interested to see how Compete combines with other Kantar/TNS research methodologies….under the massive WPP umbrella.

    There are multiple parties competing to create something better… competition is good. I’m not sure why you would propose that we boycott one of the parties competing. Let the market make a choice and innovation happening as a result.

    Keep in mind, it costs big bucks to have a small army of stats Ph.D’s collecting and analyzing all this data…everyday…all the time.….and to synthesize it into the huge number of products that SCOR has. I can’t see any free technology replicating all of this in the near future – not unless Google wants to bankroll something massive. This is wishful thinking. Plus, if you are a startup, YOU WANT TO BE INCLUDED IN COMSCORE’S DATA.

    Frankly, the guys behind IRI (Magid and Gian) and now comScore are brilliant (read: scary smart) – they already transformed one market and are likely to apply at that knowledge to this one. I’d put my money behind smart people before dumb people any day. BTW, when are you going to shut down Mahalo due to low traffic and lack of interest….? ….and move on to the next big thing? I’d love to see you take a stab at offering a NEW AND ORIGINAL idea that has more value (or potential) than comScore or Nielsen NetRatings. ;-)

    Nice rant though. Should be fun to watch this play out…. giving investment advice and telling people to short a publically traded stock seems risky to me….especially right after such a dramatic decline in the market due to other forces.

    Be good,

    -David

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/zotter E. David Zotter

    >>4. Advertisers: Do not use Comscore to plan your media buys: use the
    free and more accurate Quantcast.

    P.S. Just for my own learning, can you explain why you believe this?
    What specifically do you believe is more accurate – some set of stats….or the entire data set of Quantcast vs. comScore?

    Thanks.

  • http://gaeatimes.com Angsuman Chakraborty

    Personally I use Quantcast. However the key is for advertisers to
    understand that Comscore under-reports many sites and are in no way
    better than Quantcast when Quantcast is getting the stats by their
    embedded code like for our sites.

    Only when someone as high profile as you bring forward such issues, we
    have a glimmer of hope in getting them addressed.

    BTW: Loved your punching story :)

  • http://ilamont.blogspot.com/2009/09/gates-unbarred-review-part-ii-shinagels.html Ian Lamont

    Jason, can you include some of the communications you had with Comscore, such as emails?

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/24/comscore-calcanis-wilson-punch-face/ Jason Calacanis Punches Comscore In The Face. Comscore Punches Back. Fred Wilson Drags Us Into It. $SCOR

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  • http://www.blindfiveyearold.com AJ Kohn

    I’ve always chided folks for using comScore for accurate traffic measurement. They’ve been so far away from reality that it was – frankly – laughable. Few laughed with me though.

    Lately, Compete has fallen into the same bucket and are often as grossly off as comScore.

    comScore’s new beacon methodology is a clear sign that they’re losing ground to folks like Quantcast. Transaprent traffic measurement should be required in this day and age.

    But you know who is really the thorn in comScore’s side? Google. A rising tide of companies, from small start-ups to established sites, use Google Analytics, a simple beacon technology that gives accurate (~95%) traffic measurement.

    Google Analytics is often distributed to more than just the analysts. EVERYONE at the company can take a look, even the Sales team who suddenly wakes up to the fact that comScore numbers are wrong.

    Between Quantcast and GAnalytics, the era of transparent traffic measurement should be right around the corner. I hope you help usher it in.

    Oh, but comScore can get bullied too.

    http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/yahoo-strong-arms-comscore

  • vetinary

    After Hours: 15.24 +1.02 (7.17%)

    ooops…

  • Grant Robertson

    I’ve publicly given you crap at various times over the last few years but, I’m right behind you on this one, Jason. I appreciate you laying this backroom bs out on the table for the less road tested and experienced site owners to see.

    The key, however, lies in making advertisers understand that what Comscore tells them is at best misleading, and at worst just plain useless. How does the startup/content business battle against low CPM and put Comscore in its rightful place?

  • Harold

    Right on, Jason.

    Seriously, I am so glad someone has the balls (and the clout) to bring up this issue in a serious way. I am afraid to mess with Comscore because by business depends on its reporting (unfortunately). Internal stats, Comscore, and Google’s own ad serving have wildly different numbers than our Comscore numbers.

    Comscore knows there is a problem, and yet is making it contingent on ME to pay THEM to improve THEIR service. That makes no fucking sense at all!! It is a racket. A racket that is going to cost me one way or the other, which is a lot like the mafia.

    Again, thank you Jason! I hope this catches on.

  • jose

    Comcast stats are not accurate. I have Alexa, Google Analytics, Internal Mesurements and some random Ad Concil measurements for our site.

    The numbers do not match of any of them. Our internal stats are actually most accurate because we can track on an account basis.

    But at least the trend of Alexa, Google Analytics and internal correlates. Comcast jumps around randomly +/-50% and they call it more accurate. To correct they suggested the 5K monitoring solution. Which I agree is extortion.

    I could gladly ignore Comcast, if they did not release the silly press releases which we then have to exlain to our advertisers.

  • http://chris2x.wordpress.com/ chris2x

    I won’t say that I am jumping on a boycott comscore bandwagon, but I do see that last month the traffic that comscore reported for my site (http://AmateurTraveler.com) is half what google analytics reported.

  • Search Man

    I know people who have worked at ComScore and they told me stories about fellow employees being forced to falsify unfavorable results to maintain business relationships with ComScore’s high paying customers. If they didn’t change the results they would be fired so they left the company. While ComScore does provide good directional data in a lot of situations you cannot believe everything they say as fact because one any sample will have errors and two they will intentionally change results to help improve relationships with paying customers.

  • http://jp.techcrunch.com/archives/20100124comscore-calcanis-wilson-punch-face/ Jason Calacanis、comScoreに宣戦布告―私はcomScoreに理があるとおもう

    [...] Jasonの記事の全文はCalacanis.comに掲載されている。記事は一切手加減なしに(「イジメっ子にイジメられないようにするには即座に相手の鼻の頭に思い切りパンチをお見舞いすることだった」とブルックリンの下町で育った子供時代の思い出を書いている)、「サイト運営者はこんなサービスに金を払うべきではない。投資家はcomScoreの株を先物で売れ」と主張している。 [...]

  • ILoatheConScore

    Agree 100% here Jason — I loathe CONscore and their
    extortionary tactics. They wield their power as if their near
    monopoly will last forever but it will not. I think what we’re
    seeing here is the effect of trying to hit ever larger quarterly
    numbers. Desperation is kicking in as organic customer growth
    slows. Hurray for competition! Quantcast, Compete — bring it on!

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    [...] not support their new and widely-reported on '$10,000 to get your stats correct' extortion ring." Read more. Meanwhile, Silicon Alley Insider publisher Henry Blodget says, "Comscore is effectively waving the [...]

  • http://ptechnorati.blogspot.com Paramendra Bhagat

    Wow. This is an all out assault. I came here from Mike
    Arrington’s post at TechCrunch. He does not seem to side with
    you.

  • http://voices.allthingsd.com/20100125/why-we-should-boycott-comscore-and-perhaps-why-traders-should-short-their-stock/ Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *Perhaps* Why Traders Should Short Their Stock) | Jason Calacanis | Voices | AllThingsD

    [...] Read the rest of this post on the original site Tagged: Internet, Voices, advertising, digital, economy, media, boycott, Calacanis.com, comScore, Jason Calacanis | permalink Sphere.Inline.search("", "http://voices.allthingsd.com/20100125/why-we-should-boycott-comscore-and-perhaps-why-traders-should-short-their-stock/&quot ;) ; « Previous Post ord=Math.random()*10000000000000000; document.write(''); [...]

  • http://www.news-gate.info/strategy/is-comscore-extorting-publishers-not-quite-2/ Is comScore extorting publishers? Not quite | NEWS Gate

    [...] RSS feed for updates on this topic.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginWhy? In Calacanis’ eyes, comScore has always been guilty of underreporting traffic. But its new service, which enables [...]

  • http://weblog.blogads.com/2010/01/25/comscore-con-score/ Blogads Weblog: » Comscore = con-score

    [...] weekend web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis blasted Comscore, the web analytics firm, calling for a boycott of its data and [...]

  • http://blog.richardpetersen.co.uk/ad-age-power-15/is-comscore-extorting-publishers-not-quite Richard Petersen » Blog Archive » Is comScore extorting publishers? Not quite

    [...] In Calacanis’ eyes, comScore has always been guilty of underreporting traffic. But its new service, which enables [...]

  • http://www.antezeta.com/blog/ Sean Carlos

    There is a bigger issue here: marketing and other folks are clamoring for reliable benchmarking data, yet the means to gather this data over the web are less than perfect, a “minor” detail often left out of those shiny press releases metrics companies periodically issue.

    Several years ago I wrote a piece which tried to look at the strengths and weaknesses in the data offered by the major players.[1] One recurring theme was an alarming lack of transparency which would allow the user to understand in detail how the data was gathered and interpolated.

    1) http://www.antezeta.com/blog/web-statistics-suppliers

    Since I wrote the article, not too much has changed. Yes, Google has discretely entered the fray with their Google Trends for Websites and Google Ad Planner. While I suspect Google has access to the most accurate data sample world-wide (referrals from Google Search, Google Analytics (direct data + referrals to sites) and Web navigation monitored through the page rank enabled Google Toolbar), I’m not sure we’re yet seeing reliable data in Google’s public facing tools.

    Specifically regarding comScore, I’d love to see greater transparency as to how their panels are chosen (are users of comScore tracking REALLY aware of the tracking, or is that detail buried in an EULA for some sort of “free” software/spyware?) and how the data is weighed to represent demographics which would be leery of accepting comScore’s tracking…. I’d also love to see the world-wide distribution of their panel.

    For now, it behooves marketing folks to understand the limitations inherent in each of the third party reporting services. Caveat emptor.

  • Web Analytics Advocate

    This post details the exact problem with the web analytics industry.

    “People couldn’t understand why the internet industry, with it’s ability to track traffic perfectly, would ever adopt the failed sample-based methods used on television and radio.”

    It is the exact mentality portrayed in the quote above that has people up in arms, they just don’t understand the differences in the measuring methodologies. Measuring unique visitors on the internet is not an exact science and tracking traffic perfectly as the internet currently stands is impossible.

    Every single measurement methodology whether it is web logs, cookie based tracking, or panel based tracking has its pros and cons. The most important thing to realize is that none of them are perfect and declaring one more accurate than the other is fruitless. Obviously if you have advanced tracking capabilities such as log in requirements you can get a better picture but most sites don’t. In fact comparing any of these different data sets to one another is just not sensible in any way.

    I have highlighted a few posts which shed some light on comparing different data sources and why measuring traffic is always such a heated topic. It will be 20 minutes well spent.

    http://blogs.omniture.com/2006/07/03/why-unique-visitors-can-be-so-different-demystifying-web-analytics-and-panel-based-audience-measurement-services/

    http://blog.webanalyticsdemystified.com/weblog/2009/03/unique-visitors-only-come-in-one-size.html

  • http://calacanis.com/2010/01/25/about-14-posts-on-the-comscore-black-mail-program-any-missing/ About 14 posts on the Comscore “black mail” program–any missing? « The Jason Calacanis Weblog

    [...] Takes on comScore — and Fred Wilson Jason Calacanis / The Jason Calacanis Weblog:   Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders should short their stock)  Henry Blodget / Silicon Alley Insider: Comscore's Bogus Logic For Its Blackmail Fee: We [...]

  • Matt

    Kudos on standing up against comScore – I support it 100%, and as a Top 1000 website, we’ll continue to avoid
    paying the extortion fees to comScore.

    One thing that you haven’t mentioned yet is the “Traffic Assignment Letters” (TALs) that ComScore deals with, on behalf of their
    paying customers. Many big media companies play in this game by having publishers do traffic assignments to boost their own standings and gain additional ad dollars, even for traffic that they don’t themselves control or represent.

  • http://daveelkins.com/2010/01/25/jason-calacaniss-latest-revolution-down-with-comscore/ Jason Calacanis’s latest revolution: Down with ComScore

    [...] you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!http://calacanis.com/2010/01/23/why-we-should-boycott-comscore-and-perhaps-why-traders-should-short-... Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and [...]

  • http://anti-aol.livejournal.com/ Marah Marie

    Jason,

    Glad to see you can still rant with the best of them.
    Very good post, BTW, totally agree. Since I feel slightly
    guilty, as a blogger, I must confess: I have mentioned
    ComScore’s stats for AOL on my blog, but always with the
    warning that most people in the know believe they’re
    inaccurate because the methodology has always been, um…
    questionable.

    The fact that ComScore just use samples,
    a la Nielsen-tracking, just sorta proves everyone’s point
    in that regard.

    I agree no one should be extorted to get the same stats they
    can get for free with Quantcast and others…and like you, I
    am also a big Quantcast fan, since Quantcast has run estimates
    on my blog for years with no involvement from me that are
    close-to-accurate (they under-count somewhat,
    but they’re not server-side, so I would expect that).

    Good on you, Jason.

  • http://botd.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/top-posts-1368/ Top Posts — WordPress.com

    [...] Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders should short their stock) From my email newsletter today…. if you want these first, sign up for it! ———- Forwarded [...] [...]

  • brad

    Agree with this 100%. The biggest key to destroying Comscore is getting media agencies to stop using Comscore. I have seen and heard first hand of agencies that won’t even send RFP’s to sites that don’t hit a certain threshhold in Comscore, thus making it almost impossible for smaller, misrepresented sites to make larger ad buys. If they start using Quantcast or Compete, (even Alexa is more accurate) Comscore will become irrelevant.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I always wondered if we could launch a class action lawsuit against Comscore. As a GM of a once smaller/under reported site, I can make a direct correlation for damages that they cost our business because our numbers were so misrepresented. Their stats literally caused us to not make ad buys.

    Matt makes a good comment about the traffic assignments. Site stats can be completely manipulated by simply getting traffic assigned to you from another site that you don’t own or control. All you need to do is pay Comscore, pay off the sites for their traffic and you all of a sudden have the illusion of this large audience that you didn’t have to build. How can a system like that have credibility?

    Regarding methodology, niche sites that cater to a very specific demo will always be screwed under panel based methodology. Panels are randomly selected so as to mirror the cross section of the US. Thus sites that cater to a small but passionate sliver of people that would never let a third party monitor their web surfing habits (such as gaming, comics) will get shafted.

    I wish you luck in your endeavor, I hope they go out of business.

  • http://responderx.com/2010/01/26/quick-hit-jason-calacanis-takes-the-blowtorch-to-comscore/ Jason Calacanis Takes the Blowtorch to ComScore

    [...] Jason’s gripe? It’s long. It’s detailed. And it’s humorous. Read the rant here. I especially liked this [...]

  • John

    Jason,

    I just read your post. I have lived in Chicago on and off for the last 25 years. I have first hand experience with Comcast’s management going back to IRI. They guys are incredible in their ability to extort money for nothing. Their panel measurements in the off line world are crap and they are worse on-line. I am very happy to finally see someone call them out publicly. Comscore is a racket. Nothing more than a scam.

  • http://clickinternetmarketingtools.com/ground-truth-debuts-highly-accurate-way-to-measure-traffic-on-mobile-sites/ Ground Truth debuts highly accurate way to measure traffic on mobile sites « Internet Marketing Tools

    [...] As a result, Ground Truth data will likely show a more realistic picture of the mobile web than the survey methods of its competitors, who include ComScore and Nielsen. Ground Truth’s launch may also be very good timing, given that ComScore has recently drawn some ire for under-counting traffic numbers and then offering more accurate counts for a steep fee, a move entrepreneur/blogger Jason Calacanis called “extortion. [...]

  • anonymous founder and ceo

    The fact that I have to publish this comment as ‘anonymous’ is the ultimate indicator of why this extortionist company needs to be stopped now. Their measurement tools are antiquated
    and their fees outlandish. I can’t respond under my true identity as my sales team is running scared of Comscome: I’m tired of the ‘agencies won’t buy us unless we have Comscore’. It’s madness and it has to stop.

    PS. I’m sending this to my VP of Sales so he sees there are others that feel as strongly as I do.

  • http://www.innovationlawblog.org/2010/01/jason-calacanis-most-popular-online-metrics-company-runs-a-protection-racket/ Innovation Law Blog » Blog Archive » Jason Calacanis: most popular online metrics company runs a ‘protection racket’

    [...] angel investor, recently wrote a post alleging that the most popular online metrics company is extorting money from advertising-dependent businesses. Comscore provides ratings for websites based on a [...]

  • http://www.brand15.com/andrew/2010/01/spike-coms-latest-comscore-5-7/ Andrew Harding » SPIKE.com’s Latest ComScore: 5.7

    [...] our cumulative ComScore is just barely under 10. Sure, there’s debate over the validity of ComScore’s reporting, but advertisers pay close attention to this number. That puts us in the lead in the men’s [...]

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English Bulldog

Hello, my name is Jason. Welcome to my blog on the interwebs. You can reach me on twitter @jason and by email at jason@inside.com. My Skype is jasoncalacanis, and my mobile phone is 310-456-4900.

I only pick up numbers I recognize, and in terms of emailing me, the best strategy is to write short, blunt and to the point requests. I can quickly respond to short messages, and many times I simply don't have the time to read five page pitches. In terms of taking meetings, I only do that after reviewing an actual product (not a business plan). So, the best time to ping me is when you have mockups or an alpha site. I don't read business plans, and I've never written one.

Other twitter accounts you can follow: Inside.com, Ticker, This Week in Startups and LAUNCH Festival

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