Counting Clicks all the way to the Bank

October 28th, 2008 | Sources: Washington Post

Looking for companies positioned to weather the Great Economic Crisis of 2008? Pizaazz recently cited career networking sites like LinkedIn and Xing in this regard, but how about comScore, the Reston-based, publicly traded company that tracks consumer behavior on the Web?

comScore has created a large proprietary database by tracking the online behavior and monetary transactions of 2 million panelists. The panelists permit comScore to follow them around the Web in exchange for free Internet service or virus scans, and rights to participate in various contests. Panelists also participate in surveys which allow comScore to link information about attitudes and intentions to web search behavior. 

comScore then massages the data to create “insight” for several markets including automotive, financial services, pharmaceuticals and technology.

Its recent press releases convey the sorts of questions comScore can answer (and make money in so doing): “15 million people banked online in France in August,” “comScore ranks the top 50 US web properties for September,” “ More than half of Asia-Pacific internet users visited online gaming sites in August.”

The company’s reports have achieved sufficient cache to influence valuation exercises during M & A as was the case during the recent tie-up between Revolution Health and Waterfront Media. One time, they even affected the stock price of mighty Google. This occurred last February when comScore reported that paid search clicks, Google’s largest source of revenue, had tailed off around the Web. The search giant’s stock fell 5% on the news.

Things are tough out there though, even for comScore. The company’s stock price took a hit earlier this year when analysts suggested its data was not as reliable as that of its rival, Nielsen NetRatings.

And that’s not all. President Magid Abraham candidly admitted to the Washington Post recently that comScore got “hammered” when Google “ended up having a decent quarter” shortly after comScore had raised the red flag.


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