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Merger Will Boost Competition, Cooperation

While the dust continues to settle over last week’s announcement of the proposed merger between comScore and Rentrak, one consensus sentiment has risen above the rest — competition is good.

And competition, especially as it relates to the challenging field of crossplatform audience measurement, is very good.

CIMM (the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) is supportive of the proposed merger because the competition it will bring to the audience- measurement industry will fuel innovations and new approaches. That is what competition always helps spur.

For example, comScore has already launched a version 1.0 X-Media service, and now Nielsen is launching one of its own. Both will need improvements as users test them out, but competition will ensure that over time these improvements will take place.

BREEDING COMPLACENCY

Certainly, in an environment where patterns of content consumption are evolving faster than we as an industry can develop methods to measure them, the reality of relying upon one or even two main measurement providers is not healthy for anyone — not even the providers. This level of market dominance inevitably leads to complacency simply because the economic incentive for taking chances and innovating is not there. The risk is too great, and the reward too small.

That, to a great extent, is why CIMM was founded — to serve as the industry’s research-and-development arm, fueling innovation in cross-platform measurement technologies as a counterbalance to what was seen as the slow pace of innovation.

Competition is only part of the problem, though, and compensating for the lack of it was only one reason why CIMM came to be. The other is a more important “c” word — cooperation.

Just as the most effective drug therapy will be of no use unless a patient complies with its administration, so, too, the most innovative technologies and approaches will be of little impact unless we collectively as an industry work together to effectively implement them.

Because just as there is a degree of complacency in innovation that occurs in a market dominated by a handful of players, there is also a complacency that develops among customers. The pull to favor what one already knows, even if it is not perfect, can be strong. It is often easier to just not rock the boat.

And that can certainly hold back the industry’s overall desire and ability to innovate and embrace change.

COMPETITION AND CONSENSUS

Competition, too, as helpful as it is to innovation, can be endemic to cooperation. There is the risk of ending up with a highly fractured approach to crossplatform measurement with no consensus as to what an acceptable metric is.

That is not to suggest we should desire competition to result in yet just another single sourcedominated measurement environment, but simply that broad industry conversation and cooperation is needed to help contribute, guide and direct the shape that crossplatform measurement is to take.

Certainly, those who do not participate in the conversation — who fall susceptible to complacency — will have no opportunity to change things after the fact.

And while competition, and the innovative technology it brings, will fuel the drive to more effective crossplatform measurement, it will be the human element, realized through conversation and cooperation, that will make it a reality.

That is really why CIMM was founded, to serve as a nexus for buyers and sellers to discuss and work together, and we are pleased to continue to serve in that role in the exciting days ahead as both the combined comScore and Rentrak take shape and our other initiatives in crossplatform measurement come to fruition.

Jane Clarke is CEO and managing director of CIMM, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement. For more information, visitwww.cimm-us.org