Thursday, May 14, 2009, 9:21 AM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Amid the steady stream of sneak peek press releases I'm sent each day, one I received late Tuesday from Tremor Media, the video ad network and monetization platform, caught my eye.
The release cited March data from comScore indicating that Tremor's network now had potential reach of 137M unique users and 57M unique video viewers (both unduplicated). The former number is from comScore's Media Metrix Ad Focus report and the latter from its Video Metrix Ad Focus report.
In particular, the latter number stuck out because I recalled comScore numbers from just 2 weeks ago that revealed the viewership for the top 10 video sites. Google (YouTube) was #1 with about 100M viewers, and Fox Interactive (mainly MySpace) was #2 with about half the amount, 55M.
comScore's new data meant that Tremor's potential reach was second only to YouTube's actual reach. And if you make the argument that much of YouTube's viewership is still UGC, while Tremor's network focuses solely on premium publishers, Tremor would be #1 in potential reach against premium video, a key point of the release. It's also worth noting that 2 other video ad networks focused on premium publishers also show up in comScore's top 10 for potential unique viewers- BrightRoll with 56M and YuMe with 41M.
Tremor's VP of Marketing Shane Steele and market research manager Ryan Van Fleet walked me through the data further yesterday.
First, it's important to read these numbers carefully, as there's a little bit of apples vs. oranges going on. The Video Metrix Ad Focus report combines actual viewership by the destination sites (e.g. YouTube, MySpace, Yahoo, Hulu, etc.) with potential viewership by the ad networks. The report clearly denotes what's considered "potential." If I understand it correctly then, the comScore numbers for ad networks should be read as "here's the total potential audience of viewers you have access to." However, what percentage of this accessible audience actually gets an ad served by the ad network is only known by the ad network itself.
VideoNuze readers will recall there's been a lot of sensitivity around these comScore numbers, since last summer a minor kerfuffle broke out over comScore's ranking of YuMe's traffic. Initially it attributed MSN's full audience to YuMe, but later revised YuMe's ranking down by only included pages against which YuMe ads could be served. comScore also stated that on an ongoing basis it would report "potential" reach for ad networks based on documented agreements and "actual" reach for those networks that included certain tags. The new Tremor numbers reflect this potential reach measurement.
It's also important to remember that comScore filters its data to arrive at unduplicated reach. As I understand it that means that if for example Tremor had USAToday.com and Fox.com in its network (note Tremor doesn't disclose its publishers except to its advertisers) and a single user watched video at both sites, the user would only be counted once in Tremor's potential reach. I don't know how exactly comScore de-duplicates viewership, but let's assume it's accurate.
The extent of Tremor's reach (along with BrightRoll's and YuMe's), particularly against premium video is an encouraging sign. I've written in the past that key inhibitors of TV ad dollars moving over to online video are both scale and various friction points in the ad buying process. The comScore data demonstrates that a cluster of ad networks is emerging that can deliver against TV ad buyer's reach expectations, while adding new targeting and reporting capabilities unavailable in TV. There have also been recent enhancements to these companies' reporting/analytics (particularly around GRPs) to synch up with TV ad buyers' expectations.
The online video ad model continues to grow and evolve in spite of the current recession. This is particularly important for expensively-produced premium video where effective online monetization is crucial.
Chime in here with a comment if you think the comScore data or its implications needs further clarification.
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