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ComScore bringing mobile measurement system to Canada

The new iPad Air is displayed on Nov. 1, 2013, in Stanford, Calif. ComScore Inc. announced that it will be bringing its mobile measurement system, already in use in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, to Canada.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

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If you own a smartphone or a tablet device, chances are you've used it to look at something online in the recent past.

The rise in popularity of mobile devices is shifting how people consume media, just as much as the rise of the Internet itself did. And publishers and advertisers are hungry for more data about what exactly that mobile behaviour looks like.

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On Tuesday, comScore Inc. announced that it will be bringing its mobile measurement system, already in use in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, to Canada.

The company is known for measuring online traffic to help identify how many people, and what demographics, visit a given website, and how those traffic patterns play out. That's useful for advertisers who want to know as closely as possible whether their online ads are speaking to the audience they want to reach.

ComScore has done that with computers and laptops for years. But until now, in Canada, its mobile metrics were based on surveys – how people report their mobile behaviour. Starting in the new year, the measurement system will assemble a panel of roughly 3,000 to 5,000 Canadians, weighted to reflect the population, who will allow the research firm to track their activity on their smartphones and tablets. That will more reliably paint a picture of mobile activity in Canada.

The announcement was made at the annual conference of the Association of Canadian Advertisers in Toronto.

"We are going to get much more accurate measurement from this system," said Bob Reaume, vice-president of policy and research for the ACA. "… Just in the last three years, mobile has exploded. We've gotten to the point where we have to do this."

According to comScore data, smartphone penetration has reached 72 per cent in Canada – much higher than in the U.S., where it is closer to 62 per cent.

Over the last three years, the overall time people are spending on the Internet has doubled, comScore president Brent Bernie said in an interview. Traffic from smartphones and tablets accounts for half of that time spent online.

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"It's essential to measuring the landscape, to move in this direction," Mr. Bernie said.

ComScore also announced it is developing a multi-platform measurement tool so that it can accurately reflect overall online traffic patterns regardless of device – a system already in place in the U.S. The next step will be to build a tool to measure advertising campaigns across all those platforms, to give advertisers a better picture of the effectiveness of their campaigns.

With more advertisers buying media across platforms, there is a need for a single measure that could bring together the elements of an ad campaign's effectiveness.

"We need the full picture," Mr. Reaume said. "We can't make solid business decisions without it."

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