James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you one of my favorite C-Space Studio interviews from CES 2024. I had a lot of great conversations in Las Vegas, and I know you're going to like this one, so enjoy. Welcome back to the C-Space Studio here at CES 2023. I am James Kotecki. Joining me right now, Steve Bagdasarian, Chief Commercial Officer, Comscore. Thanks so much for coming back to the C-Space Studio. 

Steve Bagdasarian (00:36): 

Hello, thanks for having me. 

James Kotecki (00:38): 

So we chatted last year of course, but I always like to have people at the beginning of the year at CES kind of define what the brand means right now. So how do you frame up what Comscore is all about? 

Steve Bagdasarian (00:47): 

Yeah, look, I think we have a pretty clear line of sight based upon the realities of what's htruappening in the market. If we're not at peak cross-platform consumer consumption, it's definitely near peak. And so, I think the big theme for us as we look at the year, CES is a wonderful place to kick that off out of the gate, is to really focus on how do we help advertisers? How do we service the marketers to be able to reach all audiences across all screens? 

James Kotecki (01:10): 

So peak cross-platform consumption, can you speak a little bit more about that? 

Steve Bagdasarian (01:15): 

Yeah, much like for those that have been in the industry for a long time, if they recall back to the years of mobile, I feel like we've been to the years of cross-media. The currency discussions are becoming more meaningful, but the cross-platform usage and experiential nature of how media is being consumed as it relates to linear, to digital, the use of social, the use of mobile, as it relates to all these. All of those present opportunities for advertisers to be able to get a deeper impact with their advertising strategies to consumers. We're looking at that behavior as the key area for us to focus on and support, and ultimately be able to connect some dots. 

James Kotecki (01:54): 

Is there an app metaphor here that there's gaps, there's bridges, and somehow in those gaps, in those spaces between all the things that are crossing over, there's opportunities to find if you can do it, but it's very challenging to do that sometimes. 

Steve Bagdasarian (02:06): 

Massively. So you have to think about this in the sense of, it's not linear good and everything else bad, or vice versa. Every channel has its particular purpose, but the reality is as an industry, just based on where technology and where data sets ultimately have derived, things have been very siloed. There's an opportunity to bridge that and there's an opportunity to make these channels work cohesively, to ultimately drive better return on ad spend. 

James Kotecki (02:28): 

So paint me a picture of the ideal vision for an advertiser if everything worked as it actually should, and maybe the things that you're working on are hopefully going to enable this. I'm not sure how long it's going to take to get there. You can choose any time horizon you want, but paint me a picture of the future that you're really hoping to go towards. 

Steve Bagdasarian (02:42): 

Yeah, look, I think the future reality is now, right? This is all possible and doable, and that's where we see our value add, to be able to service the industry in this capacity. If you think about it, an advertiser spends a national advertising campaign on television, they're going to naturally underperform. The ability for them to be able to optimize the non-linear channels in conjunction with the in-flight performance of their linear stations allow for this opportunity to be able to maximize true reach. Maximizing true reach ultimately becomes the most important input that goes into the performance marketing equation, which at the end of the day is derived with outcomes. 

James Kotecki (03:15): 

From the consumer perspective, they probably don't even think about the idea of it being cross-channel, or any of these different things being anything separate from just their overall experience of using media, or maybe just seeing screens. So from the consumer perspective, I don't want to dumb it down too much, but it's all screens to them. So from their perspective, it should already be that way. 

Steve Bagdasarian (03:33): 

A hundred percent. And the fact is that, to them it's just media. However I consume it, however I want to consume it, I expect to have a relevant and a cohesive experience. Therefore, the ads that are ultimately powering a lot of that consumption opportunity need to also be able to fall in line with the expectations of how people want to consume information. 

James Kotecki (03:51): 

Yeah. So how do you do this in a way that everybody trusts what's going on? I know that trust is a big important part of what's going on at Comscore, so tell me about what that means to you and how you're making that happen. 

Steve Bagdasarian (04:01): 

Yeah, I mean, look, at the end of the day, our role as a third-party measurement company is to provide that independence right around verification and validation, that the ad spend was correct, the audiences that were delivered against were accurate, and that the outcome opportunities were true. So for us, we take the third-party independence and the role that measurement needs to play in this space as the critical role that Comscore needs to continue to facilitate. And frankly, that's why we support accreditation. We support the opportunity for open looks at our methodologies and so forth. But that trust factor comes down to the role that we have to embody as an organization and the services that we supply to the market. 

James Kotecki (04:41): 

Do you feel like even if you're able to provide all those elements of trust, do you feel like the market or the industry has been in a position where there hasn't been as much trust as there should be, and people need to catch up to the reality of where you are, where the technology is of what's possible? Is there still some mistrust in other words that you're trying to quash? 

Steve Bagdasarian (05:00): 

I think sometimes trust and confusion are two things that ultimately coincide with each other. Look, at the end of the day, this is a complicated industry and the role of measurement in this industry is going to be complicated no matter what, but the opportunity to be transparent with how our methodologies are built, the data assets by which we are leveraging the systems and the architecture of our technology, all of those things need to be visible back to an audit-based opportunity, to be able to really build that trust by demystifying the confusion around how measurement ultimately is derived in the space. 

James Kotecki (05:32): 

We are here at C-Space. I understand you gave a presentation with Google and the NFL. How did that go? What was that about? 

Steve Bagdasarian (05:38): 

Yeah, so the premise of that particular conversation was really predicated on two things. One, the role of and power that you can get from the incrementality of more streaming orientation into your strategies. And then also too, just these major tent pole events that are tied to sports like the Superbowl- 

James Kotecki (05:57): 

Yep. Coming here to Las Vegas. 

Steve Bagdasarian (05:58): 

Coming to Las Vegas in a few weeks, are massively, massively important aspects to be able to think differently about your deliverability of your ad-based strategy and your consumer engagement opportunities. What we know coming out of this is, when you look at the younger demographics of Gen Z, of the consumers that viewed the Superbowl on YouTube, right? 60% of them did not see ads on linear. That was truly incremental reach back to the end advertiser. On the flip side, what we're seeing and what the NFL did a fantastic job articulating is that, this is no longer, these tent pole events are no longer just about the event. It's about the buildup, it's about the event, it's about the post- 

James Kotecki (06:37): 

It's a tent pole, and then there's a tent that would be on the tent pole. 

Steve Bagdasarian (06:40): 

Correct. And we're getting into this phase now with these major events about being these leaned-in experiences which require a whole different methodology. Cross-platform is not about the deliverability of one asset across a multitude of different experiences or screens. It's about actually looking at the consumer behavior and being able to capitalize on it in the best integrated way possible. 

James Kotecki (06:58): 

I think there could be a brand or a marketer listening to this and think, "That sounds exhausting. That sounds like way more work than I was even thinking it would be, and I already thought it would be a lot of work." Is that really what it's going to take? Because more people, more brains, more technology, more firepower on all this stuff, because if you think about beyond the tent pole to a tent, and it's more days, it's more content, it's more everything. That's challenging. 

Steve Bagdasarian (07:17): 

Look, it is challenging, but there's also a massive opportunity in every challenge. The fact of the matter is that, you have so many different components here that allow for you to think about the beyond, right? The 365-day engagement that I need to be able to drive with my consumer to help bolster opportunity. And that's really what these things need to represent. So look, there's hard things that we have to deal with in our business, but tremendous opportunity the other side to be able to capture attention and brand loyalty. 

James Kotecki (07:44): 

Are you seeing AI tackle some of those hard things in new ways? 

Steve Bagdasarian (07:47): 

There's a lot of talk about AI tackling those things. I think there's a lot of promise of where it can step into. I mean, look, I think where AI has been put to use in the best case, there's a lot of promise with Gen AI as it relates to creative to help alleviate some of these challenges, as it relates to experiential or kind of the multi-touch aspects of how you think about engaging in all of these different facets around certain events, or over the course of a calendar year. We utilize AI services as it relates to our audience and segmentation business. So there is a lot of promise that I'm starting to see build in that capacity, but the promise of AI has to be able to reduce the workload that ultimately is going to be able to drive the best program here. 

James Kotecki (08:26): 

Yeah. Can we talk about gaming for a second? 

Steve Bagdasarian (08:28): 

Oh, absolutely. 

James Kotecki (08:29): 

Are you measuring gaming? Are you in gaming, and what are you thinking about for 2024? 

Steve Bagdasarian (08:32): 

Gaming's a huge, huge, huge opportunity for marketers. It's a personal passion point, as well as a core focus for Comscore. In a few weeks, we're going to release our updated State of the Gaming report. We've been looking at this space for over a decade. What I think gaming represents is this beautiful white space of consumer engagement. You have users that are in a logged in state, highly attentive, engaged. You have fantastic integration opportunities. You have users that are transacting in those environments. It is a natural extension that is underappreciated at this phase within the marketing strategy, as we think about all of those different kind of cross-screen opportunities. And I think we're going to see a rise of it, and frankly, it's becoming more of a topic, but I don't think it's as appreciated as it needs to be at this point. 

James Kotecki (09:13): 

What's been the impediment there? Because obviously the things that you're mentioning, maybe they're more true now, but they certainly have been true in years past. So what is changing there or what is the thing that needs to still be unlocked for people to get it? Or are they just going to naturally kind of finally wake up and figure it out? 

Steve Bagdasarian (09:25): 

Look, I think it's a little bit different across the board. Historically, the gaming ecosystem, specifically within the mobile app world has been more very, very heavily performance-oriented. I think the fragmented tech stacks have also prevented some of the movement into the particular space. We're now seeing that being bridged, and frankly, I think just the appreciation for the consumer time and attention in that environment hasn't really been as well thought of, until we've started to see how blossoming the gaming economy ultimately looks like. And the gaming economy is just another phase of the consumer economy and a great opportunity for brands. 

James Kotecki (09:58): 

As we wrap up here, I want to talk about the CES theme, which is this year and last year, human security for all, how technology helps people live better lives. Does that resonate with you as a company and what are you thinking about there? 

Steve Bagdasarian (10:08): 

Absolutely. Look at the core of what Comscore does, it's about representativeness, and we've done some fantastic work with the A&A to create planning tools that allow for underrepresented parts of our consumer demographic to be able to be planned, and bought against, and measured in effective ways. So for us, the core of any good media strategy takes in the factor of representatives of the consumer demographics and the consumer base. Minority factors, gender factors, all these different factors that need to play into it. We are highly committed to continuing to support that. I think it's a fantastic opportunity. We've seen wonderful movement from the market, but I think that's what it comes down to when you think about Comscore in this capacity. 

James Kotecki (10:46): 

Well, thank you for the opportunity to chat once again here in the C-Space Studio, Steve Bagdasarian and Comscore, really appreciate you coming back. 

Steve Bagdasarian (10:51): 

Always a pleasure. Thank you. 

James Kotecki (10:53): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation from CES2024. That's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Hit that YouTube subscribe button. Leave a comment. Follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeartMedia, or wherever you're getting this show. And get more CES at Ces.tech. That's C-E-S.T-E-C-H. I'm James Kotecki talking tech on CES Tech Talk.