Comscore settles charges that it and former CEO Serge Matta engaged in securities fraud

The company has experienced a number of high-level departures and other challenges recently.

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Earlier this year Comscore lost its CEO Bryan Wiener and President Sarah Hofstetter. The two left over an alleged strategy dispute with the board. This afternoon the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged the troubled company and its former CEO Serge Matta with securities fraud.

$50 in revenue fabricated. According to the SEC, Comscore and Matta overstated revenue by $50 million to create “the illusion of smooth and steady growth” over a roughly two-year period between 2014 and 2016. The scheme involved recognizing revenue on non-monetary data transactions:

Comscore, at the direction of its former CEO Serge Matta, entered into non-monetary transactions for the purpose of improperly increasing its reported revenue. Through these transactions, Comscore and a counterparty would negotiate and agree to exchange sets of data without any cash consideration. Comscore recognized revenue on these transactions based on the fair value of the data it delivered, which had been improperly increased in order to inflate revenue. The SEC’s orders also find that Comscore and Matta made false and misleading public disclosures regarding the company’s customer base and flagship product and that Matta lied to Comscore’s internal accountants and external audit firm. This scheme enabled Comscore to artificially exceed its analysts’ consensus revenue target in seven consecutive quarters.

Settlement and fines. The SEC also announced a settlement of charges. Reportedly, Comscore and Matta agreed to “cease and desist” from the kinds of actions that gave rise to this securities fraud complaint, as well as to the payment of monetary penalties. Comscore will pay $5 million and Matta will pay the U.S. $700,000. He must also reimburse Comscore $2.1 million (proceeds from the sale of stock and other compensation). He’s also not allowed to serve as an officer or director of a public company for the next decade.

Matta is currently the president of GroundTruth. However, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to remain there given the negative PR fallout. It’s not clear if jail time was a possibility for these charges.

Why we should care. The news broke as much of the advertising industry is convened in New York for Advertising Week. This news will put the ongoing discussions of trust and transparency in a new light. Media buyers rely on Comscore data, among other sources, to help inform where they should buy digital media. Being able to trust that data is critical for a healthy ecosystem.

It’s also critical that the U.S. enforce the integrity of public company disclosures because investors and the public are at the mercy of company earnings reports to determine performance. The SEC says that Matta mislead internal and external accountants during this two-year period. However it seems implausible that Matta was the only party involved without any help or knowledge on the part of anyone else within Comscore.

The company will now need to do some serious damage control to regain the trust of its customers, investors and the analyst community. If its financial disclosures were exaggerated or fabricated, it’s not huge leap to ask whether its industry metrics can be fully trusted.

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How to AB Test Copy to Increase Your Conversion Rate

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Find out how to AB test copy, the words, images, captions, and fonts that you use on your website persuasively. Learn h…

Having trouble viewing the text? You can always read the original article here: How to AB Test Copy to Increase Your Conversion Rate

Find out how to AB test copy, the words, images, captions, and fonts that you use on your website persuasively. Learn how data can be used to find out if your copywriting will deliver conversions. I believe that copywriters suffer from a particular kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. It comes from the fact that anyone […]

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SurveyMonkey Audience expands offering, helping marketers gather deeper insights

Global survey software solution SurveyMonkey has announced that its SurveyMonkey Audience arm will be extending its offerings with a new, premium service bundle called SurveyMonkey Audience Premium.

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SurveyMonkey Audience, known as SurveyMonkey’s “do it yourself” research solution, helps marketers gathering findings for various research use cases including market sizing, brand tracking, ad testing, content marketing and customer profiling – among others. The solution will be expanding its capabilities to improve marketers’ research experiences with the launch of SurveyMonkey Audience Premium.

Why we should care

Customer data is essential for marketers, and SurveyMonkey has proven to be a solution for creating engaging interactions with our customers while generating new data points. With SurveyMonkey Audience Premium, SurveyMonkey anticipates that marketers will be able to rapidly scale their market research programs — and build robust customer profiles and improve their marketing efforts based on these learnings.

The premium add-ons to SurveyMonkey Audience are expected to help marketers quickly dive deeper into their insights. In addition to expedited reporting capabilities, Premium also includes a dedicated account team, and product trainings, among other offerings.

For those working in different geographies, this could help marketers better understand their customers in various parts of a country or the world. SurveyMonkey audience allows users to target respondents based on different demographics, firmographics and other customizable questions, which could produce key insights

More on the news

With SurveyMonkey Audience Premium, customers will gain access to:

  • Dedicated account management
  • Team-wide product trainings
  • Access to B2B and low-incidence niche targets on multiple panels to reach the right respondents efficiently
  • Tracker management so customers can focus on making decisions by leveraging insights into market trends

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Workshop on Designing for Older Adults

The CREATE group, authors of the book Designing for Older Adults, is holding a workshop: CREATE (www.create-center.org ) is offering one on Designing for Older Adults.  The workshop will present guidelines and best practices for designing for older adults. Topics include: Existing & Emerging Technologies, Usability Protocols, Interface & Instructional Design, and design for Social Engagement, Living … Continue reading Workshop on Designing for Older Adults

The CREATE group, authors of the book Designing for Older Adults, is holding a workshop:

CREATE (www.create-center.org ) is offering one on Designing for Older Adults.  The workshop will present guidelines and best practices for designing for older adults. Topics include: Existing & Emerging Technologies, Usability Protocols, Interface & Instructional Design, and design for Social Engagement, Living Environments, Healthcare, Transportation, Leisure, and Work. Each participant will receive a complimentary copy of CREATE’s book Designing for Older Adults, 3rd Ed., winner of the Richard Kalish Innovative Publication Award (2019), and a USB with CREATE publications and tools.

Additional information on the workshop can be found below.

We wrote a book in the series, Designing Displays for Older Adults, which we are currently revising. It will be available in early 2020.

Why Marketers Struggle and What to Do About It

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Marketing departments are understaffed, overworked and required to do quantitative and creative work. No wonder marketers are…

Having trouble viewing the text? You can always read the original article here: Why Marketers Struggle and What to Do About It

Marketing departments are understaffed, overworked and required to do quantitative and creative work. No wonder marketers are struggling. How does Erin Collis deal with the variety of tasks all marketers face? What can leaders do? F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with saying “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed […]

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Google introduces App + Web for unified reporting in Google Analytics

The new capabilities let marketers look at customer data in more complete and flexible ways.

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The customer journey has become increasingly complex over time, with users often switching back and forth between desktop and mobile and various channels before buying. It is thus fairly challenging for marketers to gain an accurate and complete view of their customers’ paths to purchase.

Two great tastes. Google has historically had two separate tools for web and app analytics: Google Analytics and Google Analytics for Firebase, for mobile apps. Now the company is combining their capabilities in a new property that seeks to provide a more unified view of customer data: App + Web for Google Analytics.

Director of Product Management for Google Analytics, Jesse Savage, said that he hopes the new offering will help marketers and brands improve the customer experience by giving them “a single, consistent set of metrics for more integrated reporting and a more comprehensive view of the customer journey” (on Google properties). Starting today, App + Web will begin rolling out to all Google Analytics and Analytics 360 users for free.

Flexible reporting. Out of the box, it will offer a set of common events or actions that marketers can measure (e.g., clicks, video views, downloads, opens, etc.). But Savage said the tool is very flexible and can be customized according to the needs and specific requirements of the marketer.

Google points out the types of questions publishers and brands can now more easily answer with App + Web, including:

  • How many total users do we have regardless of the platform?
  • Where are the majority of conversions happening (web or app)?
  • Which marketing or advertising channel is most effect at driving new user acquisition?

Analysis module offers new ways to look at the data. A new Analysis module also enables users to look at customer data in various and flexible ways, outside of standardized reports. These include “Exploration,” which allows drag and drop data visualization, “Funnel” analysis to determine where customers are entering and leaving your properties and “Path Analysis,” which helps marketers better understand the steps along the customer journey and why users did or did not convert.

Google says that if customers are currently using Google Tag Manager or the global site tag, you don’t have to do any re-tagging to take advantage of App + Web analytics. But you’ll need to implement the Firebase SDK for your app if that’s not already the case.

Why we should care. It’s critical for brands and marketers to gain as complete an understanding of their customers’ behavior as possible. Of course, Google isn’t the only platform consumers use in making buying decisions. For marketers entirely focused on their apps, or for those who don’t have an app, the new capabilities won’t be particularly meaningful. But for those focused on both mobile apps and the web, the new App + Web capability offers much greater visibility and insight than Google Analytics and Google Analytics for Firebase each could on their own.

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