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Viacom Inks ComScore Deal for Cross-Platform Video Measurement

Viacom and comScore have struck a multiyear deal to measure video viewing across TV and digital platforms — and sell ads based on that data — but the media conglomerate is not severing its ties to Nielsen.

The deal with Viacom is the first cross-platform deal for comScore since its acquisition of Rentrak closed last month.

According to Viacom, whose properties include MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, the data and tools it’s gaining access to from comScore will be additive to the ratings and metrics provided by Nielsen. Still, Viacom expects to use the comScore data as a currency for transacting advertising deals, through its proprietary suite of Vantage products.

“This partnership with comScore marks a fundamental watershed moment in the business of television,” Bryson Gordon, Viacom’s SVP of data strategy, said in a statement, equating the development to the shift from black-and-white to color TV.

Viacom will use comScore’s cross-platform measurement tools and advanced demographic capabilities, spanning linear TV, video-on-demand, digital and over-the-top environments. The comScore data set covers more than 40 million TVs and 120 million video-on-demand users in 210 markets across the U.S., in addition to more than 1.5 trillion monthly digital interactions.

The deal between Viacom and comScore “will transform the way that advertising will be bought and sold,” comScore CEO Serge Matta said in a statement. “With these new capabilities, Viacom’s advertising partners will be the first to benefit from a radically more efficient way of conducting business and reaching the most precise audiences imaginable.”

Nielsen has long promised clients the ability to provide a holistic viewing measure across multiple platforms. In acquiring Rentrak, comScore is providing a new challenge to Nielsen, which has served as the de facto currency in the TV biz for decades.

In a statement about the Viacom-comScore deal, Nielsen president of product leadership Megan Clarken said, “There are myriad analytics options for the media industry, but Nielsen’s focus is on delivering the actual currency ratings data used for trading billions of dollars in advertising.”

Viacom struck the comScore deal ahead of its 2016 Upfront presentations. The media company  is touting several new data-driven advertising products in its pitch to Madison Avenue.

Those include Vantage Target Discovery, which uses data-mining techniques to help marketers identify “persuadables,” i.e., consumers who are not currently using a particular brand but have the propensity to be receptive to the advertiser’s messaging; and Echo Social Graph 2.0, which measures the effectiveness of custom creative marketing campaigns that now includes emotional-analysis data from startup Canvs.

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