After singlehandedly knocking $30 off Google’s stock price earlier this week, Comscore weighed in today with a lengthy analysis of its own data about Google that triggered the sell-off. Unlike the original January report–which we, at least, didn’t have access to–Comscore distributed today’s analysis publicly. As we discussed earlier, the analysis concluded that the January paid-click drop-off was no big deal–because (in Comscore’s opinion), it was primarily the result of Google’s click quality control programs.
After looking at pieces of the Comscore data earlier this week, hearing anecdotal spending reports from SEM firms, and reading Comscore’s full analysis, we have come to agree that the programs likely at least contributed to the drop-off (though we think there’s likely some economic weakness in there as well). But we do have a question for Comscore:
Did you talk to Google before writing today’s report? *UPDATE: Answer: “No.” See below.
No big deal if you did, but for three reasons it would be helpful to know: First, Google obviously has more insight into its click trends than anyone else, so we’d be curious to know if their insight might have been factored into today’s report. Second, Google does a commendable job of not discussing current business trends with Wall Street, and we’re curious to know whether this communications black-out extends to Comscore. Third, we assume that Google is a major Comscore customer, one who presumably is free to air its frustrations from time to time (such as when a single month’s report knocks 5% of its market cap because the market has misinterpreted that report). So we’d love to know whether Google might have aired some frustrations in this case.
As a broader question, we guess we’d also like to know what kind of interchange you generally have about your data and analysis with big customers and web sites. We’ve seen several stocks pole-axed by your data over the years, but we can’t recall any other instances when your analytical team has come out to say, effectively, “Wait, you people are misinterpreting our data!” As your reports have an impact on not only businesses but stock prices–and as sites often disagree with your data–we’d love to know more about the sorts of communications that are typical between you, your clients, and your analysts.
UPDATE: We spoke with Gian Fulgoni, Comscore’s CEO, this afternoon. Gian said Comscore didn’t talk to Google about the January report or today’s analysis. The syndicated Comscore service that Wall Street receives is data-only (no analysis), and Comscore simply felt that most analysts (including us) had underestimated the impact of Google’s click-quality improvement programs on the January number. Clients do occasionally howl about Comscore’s numbers, Gian said, but the data says what the data says. To consult with companies about it, Gian says, would compromise Comscore’s objectivity.