Scott McDonald

Scott McDonald

Scott C. McDonald is president of Nomos Research. Scott has more than 30 years of leadership in the media and advertising industries and teaches popular courses on media economics and measurement at Columbia University.

Publishers Need a Better Way to Measure Ad Viewability

When you take Statistics 101, one of the first things you learn is that some variables are “categorical,” some are “ordinal,” and some are “interval.” Categorical variables are the ones that don’t have any inherent arithmetic dimension to them (e.g. male/female, Democrat/Republican). Ordinal variables are those that do have a more/less arithmetic dimension, but where…

Did U.S. Election Polls Fail? Should Publishers Care?

Many media stories imply that the polling profession suffered a catastrophic failure in the recent presidential election because the national polling consensus was that Clinton would win by a comfortable margin of 3 to 4 points. Now that the absentee ballots have been counted, that forecast turns out to be fairly close since Clinton won…

Facebook’s Algorithm Tweaks Show Limits of Data Science

As noted in my recent post on Publishing Executive, Facebook has been evolving its algorithm for deciding which content gets inserted into a user’s news feed. In the latest tweak, priority goes to content that is shared from the user’s personal network, and to content that “informs and entertains” and that is “authentic” (i.e. not…

Publishers’ Stake in Facebook’s Evolving Algorithm

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook announced the latest in a series of tweaks to the algorithm that determines what shows up in the news feed of its 1.1 billion daily users. The update articulated some “core values” that seemed to build upon themes that were already apparent from the previous Facebook algorithm adjustments: Facebook…

How Can Publishers Use Data to Manage and Profit from Ad Block Users?

Most publishers have always had a part of their business devoted to database marketing. In past years, this focused on subscription marketing, customer relationship management, and handling circulation targeting for print-platform products. With the growth of the digital side of the business, publishers have moved into the vastly more complex world of data management platforms…

Why E.U. Privacy Regulations Spell Trouble for U.S. Publishers

American publishers have benefited from the largely self-regulated regime that has governed the U.S. digital advertising market. Though it has upended traditional business models and forced publishers to develop new and different tools of the trade, it has also provided a lucrative source of revenue. Since most U.S. publishers sell advertising into the domestic market,…

Bots, Fraud, and Non-Human Traffic Continue to Plague Top Publishers

Programmatic buying of digital ads has seen a sharp, seemingly inexorable rise over the past three years. Marketers have seen it as a great way to simplify the buying process, squeeze out excess costs, reduce waste, and target their customers more effectively. Publishers have been a bit more ambivalent since programmatic buying tends to commodify…