2/ Renaissance Technologies, the Long Island hedge fund where Robert Mercer made billions of dollars innovating algorithmic trades, has owned stock in Comscore for the last six years. Four months ago, it bought another 19%. https://bit.ly/3bt31Sw
3/ The 2nd yr into that investment—and less than a month before the 2016 US presidential election—Mercer's Cambridge Analytica announced a deal w/ Comscore. It agreed to provide viewer data from 52,000 households for Cambridge to use for political ad buys. http://bit.ly/39qNTVc
4/ "Our alliance with comScore takes television ad-targeting to a new level, which not only includes better targeting, but also messaging," said Ed DeNicola, then Cambridge's Head of TV. https://bit.ly/2JX5IA1
5/ The new data meant it could merge its voter information, behavioral psychology and data analytics platform with data that showed what people watch what TV shows on what stations at what times in what zip code. http://bit.ly/3b97fPl
6/ A month before the deal, Cambridge was paid $5 million by the Trump campaign to buy targeted digital and TV advertising. https://nbcnews.to/2VXV9CG
7/ Comscore collects, measures and analyzes data from four main sources: panel data collected from at least 2 million online users; census data gathered from sensors placed on about 90% of the top 100 U.S. digital media properties; survey data; and data obtained from partners.
8/ It packages the data and sells it to more than 3,200 clients in 75 countries. https://bit.ly/2JlmAjC
9/ Three months after Trump was "elected", Comscore was delisted from Nasdaq. It missed an SEC accounting deadline connected with its $14 million SEC fraud settlement. https://bit.ly/33GNzzN
10/ From February 2014 to February 2016, Comscore and its CEO Serge Matta (below) made deals with outside companies to give away user data - sometimes much more than they'd asked for - and then lied about how much those deals were worth. http://bit.ly/3cVgW5i
11/ Then he and other senior managers used those deals to artificially inflate the company's value by at least $43 million. They lied to their accountants, an independent auditor, Wall Street, the FBI and the SEC. https://bit.ly/3aJ4fcy
12/ Matta was ultimately charged with fraud, restricted from being an officer or director of a public company for 10 years, fined $5.7 million and had $2.1 million in compensation clawed back. He and Comscore were not required to admit any wrongdoing.
13/ As Comscore's CEO, Matta made deals with Facebook, Cambridge, Google, iHeartMedia, CNN, Roku, DISH, Yahoo, Viacom, Adobe and others. https://bit.ly/39AffHK
14/ Its technology is used in the ad campaign tracking tools that Facebook and Google offer its users. The month Matta was hired, Comscore signed a deal to let Google use its measurement technology with the DoubleClick ads platform. https://cnb.cx/2QmkiEP
15/ A few months after that, Comscore settled one of the largest Internet privacy class action lawsuits in US history. It was sued by at least 10M users who unknowingly downloaded its OSSProxy software—through its bundling with other partner software—and had personal data...
16/ ...stolen from their computers. They say their data was then stored on Comscore's servers and analyzed, packaged and sold to media outlets. http://bit.ly/3aP1Hco
17/ The "software collect(ed) a variety of information about a user's computer, including the names of every file on the computer, information entered into a web browser, including passwords and other confidential information, and the contents of PDF files."
18/ At the time, Comscore estimated it was collecting 14 petabytes of online user data from around the world at a rate of about 20 terabytes a day.
19/ A year after Matta became CEO, annual revenue was down almost $60 million. During that time, according to the SEC, he was leading negotiations with Company E to sell up to 20% of Comscore at a discounted share price. https://bit.ly/2XHvX5P
20/ Because the sale would dilute Comscore's stock value, Matta made a deal with Company E for it to provide a future "revenue stream" through its subsidiary to make up for the shares discount. The SEC considered that deal-and others-to be fraudulent. https://bit.ly/3cvSqGS
21/ A review of Comscore's actions during that time show that Matta was working with the WPP Group (now WPP plc) to negotiate a sell of Comscore's businesses in Norway, Sweden and Finland. They closed the deal w/ WPP paying $243M for up to 20% of Comscore. https://tcrn.ch/39NPsgc
22/ WPP is the world's largest advertising company.
23/ As part of the deal, WPP's Kantar— its data, research and analytics business—formed a global alliance with Comscore to further "expand the digital data that WPP collects and uses for its larger business in advertising, marketing and other areas." https://bit.ly/2VVdq3u
24/ WPP has 100+ advertising, public relations, media & market research subsidiaries. They do work in 112 countries for 369 of the Fortune Global 500, all 30 of the Dow Jones 30 and 71 of the NASDAQ 100. It earned more than $15 billion in revenue in 2018. https://bit.ly/34FC3oA
25/ Its founder is Sir Martin Sorrell (below). In 2004, he made a deal w/ Mikhail Lesin to merge his ad agencies in Russia—Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and PR firm Hill & Knowlton—w/ the ad agencies of Video International (VI), a billion-dollar media agency founded by Lesin.
26/ Lesin was a longtime Putin ally who worked w/ the Kremlin to take control over Russia's independent TV stations & newspapers. He developed Russia Today. He served as Russia's Minister of Press, Television and Radio and was head of Gazprom-Media. https://bit.ly/3eSqK0T
27/ Five years ago, he was found dead in a Washington, D.C. hotel room. http://dailym.ai/2U3XT05
28/ WPP's GroupM is the parent of media companies Mindshare, MediaCom, Essence, Motion Content Group, Performance Media Group, m/SIX, Wavemaker and Xaxis. https://bit.ly/34APc27
29/ Xaxis maintains one of the world's largest programmatic ad platforms and deals in more than $100 billion in ad buys every year. https://bit.ly/2S7ijp3
30/ Programmatic ads are bought and displayed based on algorithms that fuel an automated bid and sell process by ad traders. These individual trades set the value for billions of ads every year. https://on.ft.com/2JCno45
31/ In 2018, more than 80% of digital display marketing in the US was done via programmatic advertising. Last year, $45 billion was spent on programmatic advertising. https://bit.ly/3eBtQ9o
32/ Xaxis traders play both sides of the transaction for WPP clients. Aside from buying ads for them, it also buys ad space in bulk and sells it to them at a higher price. The practice earns Xaxis at least $1 billion in annual revenue. https://bit.ly/2UNw7FF
33/ It also earned it an FBI investigation. 2 yrs ago, fed prosecutors looked at the media-buying practices of WPP and its competitors—MDC Partners, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe & IPG. They were suspected of excluding competition & fixing the bidding process. https://on.wsj.com/2WWfJoR
34/ The programmatic ad exchanges have long been investigated for their lack of transparency and money laundering activities. https://bit.ly/39XWxdh
35/ Four years ago, Russian hackers were found to be using an army of automated web browsers from fraudulently acquired IP addresses to "view" up 300 million video ads per day on falsified websites. Operation "Methbot" illegally earned $3M to $5M a day. https://bit.ly/2wPJCfW
36/ Burson-Marsteller (B-M) is another agency owned by WPP. Now named Burson Cohn & Wolfe, it's a New York-based PR company that's spent decades defending dictators, industrial disasters and genocide. http://bit.ly/3b4wF0r
37/ It partners with the Russian agency Mikhailov & Partners, which was awarded a contract by Russia's Central Election Commission to cover the 2018 presidential election and run a social media voter awareness campaign. https://bit.ly/3eooezu
38/ Before that, B-M worked with the Russian Federation to help spin its narrative during the WADA doping scandal. It also represented former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in his attack on opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. https://n.pr/3b23fzJ
39/ This was the same campaign convicted felon Paul Manafort ran for Yanukovych and his Party of Regions.
40/ During some of that time (2005–2012), Mark Penn was B-M's worldwide CEO. He was chief strategist on Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign and her 2008 presidential campaign. https://fxn.ws/3ckz7Aw
41/ Penn's been on Fox News & a contributor to The Hill. Last Nov., he met w/ Trump to share data & impeachment advice. He never thought Trump had any "real connection…to any Russia collusion conspiracy..." and "the (Steele) dossier was a sham…" https://wapo.st/3abFBB3
42/ Seven months after WPP bought part of Comscore, Comscore paid $732 million for Rentrak. The purchase gave it the ability to merge its Internet-traffic data with Rentrak's TV viewing data.
43/ The combined data gave it "detailed consumer demographics…far beyond age and gender with the exact TV shows, web site or mobile experiences that the target consumer is watching." http://bit.ly/33fpW0J
44/ The merger gave Comscore a large amount of new TV and video audience data that it used to make new data-sharing deals and evolve its own software capabilities. It also brought together companies who had a history of working with the Koch brothers.
45/ Comscore's partnered with the Kochs since at least 2012 when it was working with i360 to gather and analyze offline data on voter registration, political affiliation, social issues and behavioral demographics to target persuadable voters. https://bit.ly/2JgBCHm
46/ i360 is a data firm that was started by Michael Palmer, the CTO on John McCain's 2008 pres. campaign. It merged w/ the Koch ntwrk & is funded by its Freedom Partners. Its database identifies 199M voters & has 1,800 unique data points on 270M Americans. https://politi.co/2TTjwBA
47/ Rentrak started working with i360 a few years after Comscore did. It provided Republican campaigns with new segments of voter data from its TV audience analytics. https://prn.to/39HJ9ty
48/ A few months after Rentrak announced its work with i360, the Kochs struck a deal to share its voter data with Data Trust, the data company the RNC started almost a decade ago. https://politi.co/2VBzYY2
49/ The deal was a merging of all the Koch data from groups like American Crossroads and American Action Network and the RNC's voter data for hundreds of millions of Americans that it had gathered over the decades.
50/ Two months later, the American Democracy Legal Fund filed a complaint with the FCC accusing the RNC, American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, the GOP Data Trust and i360 of: https://bit.ly/3dRyyjc
51/ "illegally coordinating through the ongoing exchange of non-public strategic campaign and party data resulting in millions of dollars in prohibited contributions from Super PACs and corporations to Republican campaigns and parties in the form of "coordinated communications."
52/ It alleged that "outside groups that accept unlimited contributions from undisclosed dark money sources are subsidizing the RNC's entire data program in violation of the law." https://bit.ly/34HZhdQ
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