Following years of debate whether or not the UK online industry needed a common standard of measurement as other media have, the agencies, publishers and advertisers came together in 2009 to solve the problem of many sources of online audience data from many parties with conflicting self-interest. As a result, the UK Online Measurement company – UKOM – was formed.
UKOM is co-owned by the Association of Online Publishers, the AOP, and by the IAB, the Internet Advertising Bureau. On UKOM’s executive board are represented, in advisory roles, the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, or the IPA, and ISBA, The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.
UKOM’s primary function is one of standard setting and governance. Fundamentally UKOM is the key industry stakeholders coming together to identify, define and govern a common UK industry standard for online audience measurement.
UKOM is NOT a joint industry committee (JIC) like BARB or RAJAR.
The UKOM model is a hybrid model using a commercial partner who owns the UKOM-endorsed data. This hybrid is now unanimously viewed as a successful and necessary compromise delivering for the UK online industry a flexible alternative to a full JIC proposition.
In UKOM’s hybrid model, the commercial operator owns the data and is able to utilize it in other commercial market propositions. While incorporating UKOM data, these cannot themselves be seen as UKOM endorsed products.
The relationship is a contractual one with a set of clearly defined metrics and a service level agreement.
In autumn 2012 following an open pitch, in which four commercial businesses tendered for the UKOM contract, the UKOM Executive and Technical Boards unanimously awarded comScore the exclusive contract to deliver UKOM endorsed audience measurement tools to the market. That contract expires in 2018 with an option to continue on a rolling one year basis.
comScore and UKOM are entirely separate entities.
comScore are responsible for delivering an appropriate methodology to measure people’s usage of devices used to access the internet, processing that data, providing an interface to allow subscribers to access the data and develop new approaches and systems to meet the ever developing ecosystem that is internet access.
UKOM, via its Executive, Technical and Commercial Boards, monitors and governs the quality and methodologies of the comScore approach providing reassurance to the industry that standards are being met in the UKOM endorsed products. Currently the core product is MMX MP (for multi-platform, cross-device online measurement) with richer data provided through MMX (for PC and Desktop), MoMX (for tablet and mobile) and VMX (for online video).
UKOM is funded by a 12.5% levy on all of UKOM endorsed products that comScore takes to market.
With a board on which are represented the publishers (AOP), the agencies (IPA), the advertisers (ISBA) and the broadest range of digital businesses (IAB) UKOM has representation from all constituents of the online marketplace. UKOM shares board members, has regular communication and close relations with other organisations and JICs such as BARB, RAJAR, JICPOPS and NRS/PAMCO.
Technically no, UKOM contract a third party specialist audience measurement company (currently) comScore, to supply the audience data – under a contractual agreement and under the oversight, or governance, of UKOM.
This is one of the key points of differentiation between UKOM and ‘traditional’ joint industry committees (JICs), UKOM do not own the data.
The UKOM Technical Board aims to meet six times per year while maintaining a constant open line of communication and is made up of about 12 members representing agencies, publishers, the IAB and the AOP.
The main purpose of the Technical Board is to review and suggest enhancements, where they feel necessary, to comScore methodologies - before making a recommendation to the main UKOM Board on awarding UKOM approval or not.
The Technical Board is also responsible for:
The UKOM Commercial Board meets up to six times per year and is made up of about 10 members representing agencies, publishers, the IAB and the AOP. The Commercial Board monitors overall comScore performance in relation to UKOM endorsed products, including contractual Service Level Agreement compliance and general market relevance.
The Commercial Board also works with comScore on the ratecard for the UKOM products to ensure that any changes represent a fair reflection of the investment and work carried out by comScore. UKOM does not enforce the ratecard and all negotiations between any customer and comScore are confidential matters for those parties only.
UKOM first formed a Digital Strategy Group in 2014 and it has been reinvigorated in 2016 to allow UKOM to engage with and be more relevant to the leaders of digital strategy in agencies.
The DSG meets around every two months and all agencies are welcome to be represented by their Heads or Directors of Digital, Digital Strategy or Digital Planning or any equivalent role within any UK agency.
The intended role of the DSG is to:
The benefits for DSG participants:
When UKOM’s relationship with comScore began, the Technical Board reviewed all comScore product methodologies, raising a number of questions and suggesting the enhancements it would like to see. Reviews take the form of written Q & A and opinion summary documents – all of which are made available to the UKOM Executive and Technical Boards, as well as to comScore.
There are two levels of UKOM product approval, "Industry standard" and "Development level":
Industry standard – (e.g. MediaMetrix, MMX ) comScore product has been through UKOM Technical Board's Q&A process and the methodology thoroughly investigated. With recommendations/enhancements considered, UKOM's Executive Board accepted the Technical Board's recommendation to endorse.
Development level – (e.g. MobileMetrix, MoMX) applied to comScore products when methodology has significantly changed or is a new product and/or market conditions require ongoing development. Methodology accepted in principle but yet to be fully endorsed, as endorsement requires conditions to be fulfilled.
In action, by way of example, the PC panel then received considerable investment to achieve better balance in demographics; in the mobile measurement space some demographic reporting was removed as UKOM Technical Board were unhappy with the data leading to comScore reviewing the methodology and statistical process and then reintroduced the demographic level data when the revision was to the satisfaction of the Technical Board. Our review of comScore’s MMX Multi-Platform methodology also highlighted areas for future improvement when technically possible.
These can be seen as real examples of UKOM Governance.
Contractually speaking your relationship is a commercial one directly with comScore and they are your first point of contact on commercial aspects and technical ones via your account manager.
However UKOM constituent owners are IAB and AOP, and if you are a member of either of those bodies you have a relationship with UKOM and they can be used to raise queries which are then passed to UKOM for attention. You can also raise issues or questions direct with UKOM via our website.
The quickest way to resolve such issues would be to contact your comScore account manager. If you feel there is a more systematic issue then contact as previously suggested but also contact UKOM via our website form.
Broad systematic issues are extremely rare as there is a rigorous quality assurance process built into the comScore production process. Very occasionally there can be issues with individual publisher numbers, usually this results from dictionary changes or issues around tagging.
The measurement approach for all products (desktop, video, mobile and tablet) is what is known as a hybrid approach, i.e. a metered respondent panel and site/app tagging combined.
In the case of the people panel a piece of software is downloaded to the device and works as a ‘meter’ tracking sites visited and reporting engagement and duration metrics, there are variations depending on device, but essentially this is the principle.
The benefits of people meters apply as they do for measurement of other media, television, radio, print etc., beyond measurement itself, they deliver demographic information, the downside of this approach is metering tends to be weak for non-home usage, i.e. work and any other locations out of home. To address this meter limitation tagging is employed, website and app owners install a tag on their website, app and video player/content, this then returns data to comScore on visitation, from all locations.
comScore then use a statistical process known as Unified Digital Measurement (UDM) to combine data sets to produce reconciled, all-location data for unique visitors, page views and duration based metrics.
The panels are recruited using the tried and trusted research standard approach: incentives to be panelists.
In this case the panels are recruited exclusively online using a range of incentives. One of the first things UKOM addressed when contracting comScore was to conduct a study using an independent third party research company (IPSOS) to determine if there was any bias in the panel recruitment by using an online exclusive approach. The results of that independent study found little significant difference in the online behaviour of online and face to face recruits – and those differences found were subsequently corrected for by the application in MMX of comScore’s proprietary CIT (Census Informed Targeting) weighting scheme. A similar method will be introduced to MoMX when data volumes permit.
UKOM insist that our research provider, comScore, use the broader UK industry recognised National Readership Survey (NRS) as an enumeration study, i.e. that is the source of information which must be used to determine the representativeness of the comScore panel in terms of demographics, device representation, frequency of online usage and so on.This is achieved via targeted respondent recruitment and minor demographic weighting corrections.
Ideally all webpages, video (player and content) and apps should be tagged to give the most accurate reporting of audience, for the reason stated previously, tagging covers all location and device access.
Having no tagging does not mean there will be no reporting, if users visit content they will be picked up by the people panel, but given the limitations of panels the measurement numbers are likely to be lower if they are projected solely from panel as all panels tend to underrepresent out of home usage.
PC’s, Macs, Smartphones (exception, Windows based models and Blackberry) and tablets, iOS and Android operating systems and browsing and apps (apps must be tagged)
As mentioned under ‘How are internet audiences measured?’ comScore use a statistical process known as Unified Digital Measurement (UDM) to combine panel and tagging data sets to produce reconciled data for unique visitors, page views and duration based metrics.
This is achieved via the application of cookies per person ratios (derived from panel meter observation) to the data, which has the effect of removing duplicated site/app usage by one person across different devices, browsers and locations.
In practice the UDM process generally increases audience for sites that are panel only measured (as it better accounts for non-home usage) and decreases audiences that are tag only, or more reliant on tagging as they have few panelists visiting them, as it accounts for duplication from multiple locations, multiple devices, multiple browsers, cookie deletion rates and filters out non domestic traffic (UKOM being only concerned with visits from UK residents).
That will vary depending on your internal analytics and how the tagging has been deployed.
In broad terms analytics which are tag only based tend to over-estimate usage as they count browser access not people, the visitor term comScore use is ‘unique visitor’ as it represents one person visiting multiple times over a given period, 1 month, a browser count tends to be cumulative.
Your internal analytics must also account for access from multiple locations, devices, browsers, filter out non-UK traffic and perhaps more difficultly cookie deletion rates (comScore can calculate the cookie deletion rate as they also have people meter data).
Yes, through a product known as MMX Multi-Platform (MMX M-P).
comScore take all the audience data from the platform specific data sources (MMX, VMX and MoMX) and apply a statistical function to them to create a cross device view of usage. Key to that statistical process is understanding, via a subset of comScore’s census network data (the ‘Dynamic Panel’), people’s cross-device behavior and usage patterns and how each device is used in terms of the sites or apps visited.
The data is currently released on a monthly basis, in the month following the measurement period, so January data would be released in mid-February.
A development in this area is currently underway. The approach will still utilise the current resources, people panel and census network (tag based) but will also incorporate data sets from third parties where that third party can provide user registration and behavioural records assigned to those registered users. This third party data will be used in particular to improve demographic profiling and deduplication to unique user level.
A published rate card exists for both media owners and agencies which UKOM agrees with comScore. Firstly it places companies into tiers (which are based primarily on total audience reach for media owners and published billings for agencies). Each tier has its own, straight-forward rate structure. Obviously the larger the audience reach (or billings) the higher the tier the company is placed within and the higher the subscription fees become. Within each tier the entry product is “Multi-Platform Data” which can be purchased at either “Base” or “Advantage” levels (the latter being a much richer product).
While this provides insight into the entire digital audience, subscribers can then choose to add deeper, richer and more specific audience insight to their subscription by taking any or all of MMX (for web), VMX (for video) and MoMX (for mobile) – once again at either “Base” or “Advantage” levels.
It should be stressed that UKOM goes no further than to agree (and annually review) both the tier structure and the rate card pricing levels with comScore – actual subscription deals are a confidential matter between each subscriber and comScore.
The fee paid by subscribers is made up of two elements – the main part being the price paid to comScore for delivery of the product. The second part is a supplement (currently set at 12.5%) which is used to fund the oversight, governance and quality control of the product that UKOM delivers, together with a contribution towards some of the specific product improvements and developments specified by UKOM to ensure it continues to reflect industry requirements.
At the outset UKOM considered established pricing in place with both its chosen and competitor research providers. A commitment to competitive and controlled pricing in the future formed a significant element of the provider selection process. Additionally, the contract with the research provider lays down carefully drafted and tight processes that have to be followed by both parties to ensure rate card pricing remains competitive, fair and transparent.
The rate card is overseen by UKOM’s Commercial Board which is comprised of Commercial Directors (or similar) of a wide range of subscribing media owners and agencies. Beyond inflation-linked increases, comScore are required to provide robust business cases to the Commercial Board for any proposed rate card increases. These are considered carefully and debated with rigour before any amendments to the rate card are approved and endorsed by UKOM.
The UKOM Commercial Board plays a leading role in considering how best the UKOM data and the service provided by comScore can best meet changing industry requirements. In the same way as rate card change proposals are considered by building and reviewing business cases, so too are the priorities for and breadth of areas for development.
Wherever it is the case that there may be a bottleneck with too many development challenges fighting for insufficient time and investment, the Commercial Board will set priorities by considering relative value to the industry, likely (or proven) demand from the wider industry and any other cost/benefit considerations.
UKOM’s current remit from the industry does not include measurement of advertising based systems.
However UKOM’s research provider, comScore, do have a number of products which measure advertising related issues, viewability, ad fraud etc. Within those products comScore draws on the UKOM endorsed people measurement systems and demographics as part of the solution, these end products are not however UKOM endorsed as, being out with remit, the UKOM Technical Board has not reviewed the full methodologies.
Planners, buyers and sales teams alike can be confident that there IS an industry standard for UK online audience measurement and it is UKOM.
Only UKOM endorsed data from comScore ticks the boxes in terms of an independent, cross-device view of UK online demographic audiences covering the full spectrum of digital media properties providing planning data reach, frequency and time spent. There are still a number of sources of data that can be used for online media planning but only UKOM comes with the approval and governance of the industry trade bodies representing digital publishers, agencies and advertisers.
UKOM data feeds into the IPA’s Touchpoints cross-media planning tool.
Access is via subscription and you should contact comScore in regard to this.
The multi-platform product, MMX M-P, is the data of record and the entry point product. If you require greater insight into a particular platform, e.g. mobile then there is a more details product available in MoMX, subscription rates on request from comScore.
It is entirely a matter for individual subscribers to decide which selection of products (and at what level) their requirements are best met. UKOM has worked hard and considered the range of requirements that exist from right across the media landscape, to create and offer a set of products, via comScore, that it believes will meet the audience measurement needs of both media owners and agencies.
It was a clear requirement from across the board that a core measure of audience across all digital channels was the industry’s main priority which is why the Multi-Platform product is the only entry point into UKOM data. This product (at “Advantage” level) provides excellent audience data and insight of a complete digital audience. However, to benefit from the understanding and insight of an audience at a richer, deeper and device/channel specific level and so be best-placed to leverage maximum value from those audiences, subscription to the complete suite of UKOM approved products is recommended.
Yes, the data that can be found in the comScore interface is also available through software bureau, Telmar, IMS and Kantar. Currently only the MMX (Desktop PC) and VMX (desktop video) data is available with MMX Multi-Platform coming later this year.
The data is also available through IPA’s Touchpoints or an API feed to power your proprietary systems.
If you have any questions please get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.
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