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Google-comScore Partnership Will Change the Ad Equation

By Daniel B. Kline – Feb 16, 2014 at 6:35AM

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Google's new partnership should send a message to television that no ad dollar is safe from the Internet giant.

Google (GOOGL -0.90%) has partnered with comScore (SCOR -0.72%) to offer advertisers real-time data to measure how effective campaigns are across all types of computer screens and mobile devices. The move brings Google closer to offering the kind of data television companies have offered advertisers, and it should help the online giant compete for ad dollars with TV networks.

The product, comScore Validated Campaign Essentials, will, after a test period, be offered to clients on Google's DoubleClick ad management platform. According to a comScore press release, comScore's vCE metric will be built directly into the DoubleClick ad server that publishers and marketers use to deliver their ads. It will initially be available in the U.S. later this year for desktop-based display and video ads, with plans to expand the service for mobile and cross-platform.

Serge Matta, president of comScore, said that he believes this partnership will bring more digital ad dollars to the table.

"It allows us to radically simplify digital media buying for the industry, while enhancing quality and accountability," he said. "This directly addresses many of the everyday challenges that prevent our clients from investing further in digital."

What does vCE do?

While the comScore press release announcing the deal relies heavily on buzzwords, the reality is that the partnership should give DoubleClick advertisers more effective tools to manage their ad campaigns in real time. The vCE system will put a whole lot of data within one click for advertisers, letting them know who is seeing their ads, what actions they are taking (or not taking), and other useful info.

According to comScore, the service offers "cross-screen comparable audience delivery metrics – such as reach, frequency, and gross rating points [used to measure the size of an audience reached]. This provides clients immediate access to industry-trusted, neutral data that's directly comparable to TV and other traditional media."

"We're deeply committed to creating metrics that are as meaningful for brands as the click is in performance advertising," said Google Vice President of Display Advertising Neal Mohan.

Jed Meyer, research director at Annalect, the analytics arm of Omnicom, said it best when he told the Wall Street Journal that the deal makes Google accountable like traditional media. "If NBC sold you a commercial, you wouldn't just trust NBC that the ad reached a million people," he said.

Will all those buzzwords make Google more money?

According to CNBC, the "total brand advertising market, which includes digital, TV, and more traditional offline ads, is worth at least $300 billion a year." Google, which once competed with other Internet companies for ad dollars, is betting that the comScore deal can help it fight for ads that normally would have gone to television.

"To really crack the nut and bring brand dollars to digital advertising, you have to crack the brand-measurement nut," said Mohan to CNBC. "This integration and partnership with comScore is our bet on real-time audience measurement."

Still, while this deal moves Google close to offering advertisers the kind of data that they get from TV campaigns, it should be noted that a very small amount of companies control most TV ad dollars and those companies do not move quickly.

"Most large brands -- and recall that there are fewer than 200 who account for more than 90% of network TV advertising -- want to optimize their video spending across video-based screens, and TV in its traditional form is not losing its dominance any year soon," Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Weiser told Forbes.

An equal playing field

For Google, the deal removes a hurdle that it faced when fighting TV networks for ad dollars. Instead of being an Internet company with special Internet metrics, Google is matching TV at its own game.

With the data from this deal, the TV companies can no longer argue to major brands that Google offers something different (they may still argue it, but Google has the ammo to fight back now). It's all about eyeballs and this partnership allows Google to show exactly how many it can deliver -- and perhaps how they react -- in a way that's directly comparable (if not more data rich) than TV.

Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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