Publishers say they’re not getting credit for the audiences they’re reaching with social media videos.
As digital publishers bet big on video in search of advertising riches, many believe that a traditional method of media measurement isn’t keeping up.
Publishers have long used “unique visitors” as a benchmark to compare the size of their website audiences and lure advertisers. But some media companies say the metric has become somewhat outmoded in an era when content is being disseminated widely on social media and other platforms. Publishers publish video content directly on services such as Facebook and Instagram to capitalize on the massive scale and reach of those platforms. Since audiences for these videos don’t always visit publishers’ websites, they are not captured in unique visitor figures.
The debate has also been shaped by two of the most prominent digital measurement firms. comScore ranks media companies by the number of unique visitors they receive every month as counted by its Media Metrix Multi-Platform product. (Some) publishers say comScore doesn’t track viewers they receive for video posted directly to Facebook, which makes up a significant portion of their audiences.
Nielsen said it is able to track viewership for video published directly to Facebook through an arrangement with the social media company. Facebook has incorporated Nielsen’s measurement standards into its video player, and the company sends viewership information and metadata to Nielsen’s servers.
In an email, a spokesperson for comScore said the company measures audiences on products including Google Play Newsstand, Apple News, Flipboard, Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles.
Mic reached 11.9 million unique visitors in October, according to comScore; Nielsen reported they reached 40 million people, according to its metrics. PopSugar reached 34 million unique visitors in October, according to comScore; Nielsen reported they reached 80 million. BuzzFeed’s Nielsen number is generally about twice as high as its comScore number.
Although Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings has gained some traction since its launch, comScore is still a mainstay in the digital publishing industry. The widespread adoption of comScore’s measurement standards makes them a lingua franca of sorts among media companies, some of whom maintain comScore and Nielsen subscriptions in parallel.
In the end, total audience size as defined by comScore or Nielsen is only one factor in an ad buying equation that includes elements like engagement and content quality, said Sarah Baehr, EVP and Managing Partner of Digital Investment at Horizon Media.
Mullin, B. (2018, January 11). How Many People Did That Story Reach? It Depends Who’s Counting. Wall Street Journal.