CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations - ComScore offers measured effort

Client: ComScore Networks (San Francisco)
PR Team: LaunchSquad (San Francisco)
Campaign: Building comScore's credibility
Time Frame: September 2001 to January 2002
Budget: $100,000

In the summer of 2000, comScore retained Launch-Squad to unveil the company, which wanted to position itself as the best source for online market measurement. With two formidable and established competitors in the field - Nielsen NetRatings and Jupiter Media Metrics - the company faced an uphill battle to get attention from a media loyal to its traditional sources.

A year later, comScore knocked on LaunchSquad's door again. "They set us out then to launch their data, explains Jesse Odell, cofounder of LaunchSquad. "But the challenge was significant. They said, 'We want you to make us an industry standard within the next six months.'"

Strategy

LaunchSquad, working with Dan Hess, comScore's VP of marketing, and Gian Fulgoni, chairman and CEO, devised a two-pronged strategy. First, it needed to get these senior executives in front of influential media contacts to personally communicate comScore's key findings.

The objective was to convince important media contacts to turn to comScore for intelligence, and cite its data, as opposed to that of its competitors.

"We were dealing with such a jaded audience, we had to make sure we were precise in saying why comScore was better, Odell says.

The team also recognized it would have to focus on presenting data that would be relevant to seasonal coverage of issues. "It was just starting to get into holiday shopping season, Odell explains. "Everyone was looking for data, so we could position comScore as a valuable resource."

Tactics

For the first couple of months, LaunchSquad focused on setting up meetings with key media and analysts - not an easy task in an increasingly difficult press environment. But the company focused on targeting the right reporters, and emphasizing the pedigree of comScore's founders and the difference between the data supplied by comScore, and that of its competitors.

The company's founders, including Fulgoni, and president Magid Abraham, were previously senior execs at Information Resources, a successful market research firm. That background created interest among some media contacts.

But the real story was what comScore could offer the harried journalist on deadline. Once in front of a journalist, the company aimed to prove why it was measuring online behavior more effectively than its competitors.

One key message was that comScore's voluntary online sample was over 1.5 million people strong, while its competitors were taking data from far fewer users.

"We were also looking at reporters who were already writing about the companies and financial issues that we knew comScore's data would support, explains Odell. For example, they targeted the chief e-commerce reporter at The New York Times with data about buying patterns online. The reporter followed up with questions about what information would be available for the holiday season.

Press releases focused on specific aspects of holiday shopping habits, helping feed the traditional seasonal coverage, particularly in a tough economy.

Results

Between June 2001 and January 2002, the company saw a 381% increase in coverage, much of it related to reports featuring the company's data.

This was largely achieved through the development of 40 key media relationships, a number that has since grown as news of comScore's data has spread. Investors Business Daily ran a feature story specifically talking about how com-Score's metrics had changed online data. In February 2002, The Wall Street Journal came out with its e-commerce supplement, and comScore's data was the featured source for the story.

Future

LaunchSquad was retained on a project basis, and completed its work earlier this year. Odell says the company continues to look for ways to consistently deliver data of interest to reporters, and that its challenges are the logistics tied to that effort, rather than strategy.

In June, Jupiter Media Metrix sold its measurement business to comScore, eliminating it as one of the company's competitors.

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