This was supposed to be a break out year for comScore after its February acquisition of Rentrak created a digital and TV audience measurement power that some analysts thought would make it a potential rival to Nielsen.
But comScore instead finds itself in Wall Street’s dog house. It announced yesterday a management restructuring with co-founder Gian Fulgoni replacing Serge Matta as CEO while the company investigates “potential accounting matters” that delayed its release of its financial reports for 2015 and this year’s Q1.
“The first half of 2016 was not business as usual for the company because of the distraction caused by the investigation,” Fulgoni told analysts. “Our Board has recognized that we have [an] emergency to regain our business focus.”
The Audit Committee hired King & Spalding to be its independent counsel and AlixPartners to provide forensic accounting services. Ad giant WPP owns about 18% of the company.
comScore’s lost more than a third of its market value this year, especially after it failed in March to file the reports on schedule. Shares are down 4.7% in mid-day trading, wiping out yesterday’s gain from the announcement.
comScore says that in the first half of this year revenues increased between $214 million and $218 million, about $20 million below its budget.
The companies cites three culprits for the shortfall. It saw “distractions” from the investigation that “affected our sales efforts and our productivity and product development.” It delayed rollout of services to measure mobile audiences. And client mergers were “out of control.”
“Unfortunately, this occurred just as we were going through the merger integration of Rentrak with comScore which is also a very intensive process adding to this distraction,” CFO David Chemerow says.
Even so, Fulgoni says that there is “real demand” for the kind of cross-platform measurement vowed to offer when it bought Rentrak, positioning comScore as a potential threat to Nielsen.
Advertisers “need to understand how these campaigns are working within and across television and digital platforms. So we’ve been able to run multiple analyses of campaigns in 2016 and we’ve got multiple trials scheduled with major brands in the coming months. We also executed our first over-the-top campaign studies for leading over-the-top services. All very encouraging.”
He adds that comScore is “learning how to best combine two high performing companies with a compelling vision that are coming together in a common shared culture.” In addition, they are learning “how to merge our separate expertise in digital and television into shared expertise in cross-platform measurement that I believe is unparalleled.”