Is An Online GRP Needed For Online Video Advertising?

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Video Ads and The GRPFor years, the television world has pivoted on the use of a reach and frequency metric known as the Gross Rating Point, a.k.a. the GRP (Wikipedia), for the buying of advertising time. As TRAFFIQ's Eric Picard points out in a 2009 iMedia Connection article, "This currency  enables immense substitutability of inventory, meaning that there is a way to value an ad across media types -- there is, essentially, an exchange rate."

So, can this system which has propelled TV forward be used online? Some companies and marketers think it should be. Ultimately, the hope among some media professionals is that not only will it ignite online video advertising, but also move TV dollars online, in general. AdExchanger.com asked a group of industry experts from the video advertising side of the ad ecosystem the following question:

"Is an online GRP system necessary in order to make online video advertising flourish and realize its potential?"

Click below or scroll down for more to read the answers:

Suzanne Claassen, SVP, Digital Standards & Investments, SMGx (Publicis)

"I'm not convinced its the iGRP, but standardization of digital video measurement is essential to achieving that market's potential. The solution needs to be equatable to broadcast measurement in order for clients and agencies to embrace it quickly. Consumers have changed their video viewing habits to include new devices but media spend hasn't kept pace with that change. This is largely due to the fact that there are too many ways to measure the effectiveness of your digital video investment. It makes the market look unstable and easily manipulated."

Brett Wilson, CEO, TubeMogul

"It would be nice if online video were as standardized as broadcast such that a single metric could be used to compare the value of buys, but it's not. On TV, ads may run at different times and within different shows but largely appear the same to the consumer. Whereas videos watched online are seen in a myriad of different placements and channels. The implication is that GRP for online video would provide redundant reach/frequency metrics to what is already available without addressing the value of the ad experience. GRP also wouldn't indicate if the target audience actually watched or interacted with the ad, both of which are measurable. The reality is online video advertising is already flourishing with 40% annual growth and ad demand outpacing supply. But getting to a massive market size may require a new (GRP-like) metric: one that truly simplifies buying choices by accounting for both reach/frequency among target audience along with the many other factors that influence the value of an online video ad. The goal being an advertiser that buys a GRP in online video or TV is likely to move sales in an equivalent way."

Tammy Bondanza, SVP Digital Media, and Stacey Shepatin, SVP, Director of National Broadcast, Hill-Holliday (IPG)

"As Media Professionals, our ultimate goal is to engage consumers with our clients' messages within the content and medium of their choice.  Video continues to be one of the most compelling means of resonating with a consumer.  Which leads to the current media planning quandary - how do we equate a video ad viewing in broadcast vs. online when targeting, costs and effectiveness may vary dramatically?  Is the GRP the most effective measure?

While the GRP is not a perfect metric, it does seem to be the lowest common denominator that allows us to see the full exposure of our campaigns across mediums. The GRP is the current measurement standard in television, there is no standard video measurement online. Currently, Fox and The CW are using a methodology that converts online impressions from their video players to demo impressions so that they can be additive with television.  This methodology allows for the easy transfer of dollars between television and digital because the CPM for the content purchased on TV and online is the same.  But not all of the online video players are sold this way.

So GRP is not an ideal metric for TV or online.  It only tells us the percentage of audience we are reaching with our message.  For all of these mediums to thrive, our evaluations must move beyond the GRP to understand what drives customer engagement and action."

Amir Ashkenazi, CEO & Founder, Adap.tv

"The first thing to recognize, is that the introduction of GRPs in online advertising is not a zero-sum game relative to replacing deeper, more traditional digital metrics. There’s undoubtedly a place for both.

From an online video perspective, GRPs are a significant step in the right direction. We’re now able to speak to brand advertisers in a TV-centric language they can understand – important, as we’re seeing the first, subtle signs of an agency shift toward consolidated TV/online video buying.

Secondly, GRP validation through Nielsen or comScore enhances the accountability of data-driven video buying. Theoretically, we’ve always been able to sell online GRPs. But for the first time, we have the ability to actually validate the age/sex of every impression via a third party. A critical piece to facilitate the migration of TV monies online.

That being said, there are some limitations. GRPs are the output of reach and frequency goals against an advertiser’s target. Why is this important? Because right now, there’s no way to add TV & Online GRPs together, de-dupe audience and understand the combined R/F. Let alone the dynamics of cross platform frequency exposure. And in a market rapidly moving toward video agnostic buying, that’s what increasingly sophisticated advertisers really want to understand."

Joseph Leon, Managing Director EMEA, Essence

"Online GRPs are fundamentally flawed but play a valuable short term role in harmonising measurement across media and providing reassurance to advertisers unfamiliar with digital, especially for online video where the clamour for consistency has been loudest.

However, while the methodology may appear sound, the assumption that the impact of a TV commercial is identical to an online pre-roll is naive. Neither format nor context is considered. Is a laptop pre-roll impression the same as a primetime commercial to the same viewer watching with their family? Is a live Superbowl moment really the same as a Bridezillas re-run?!

Online GRPs also overlook engagement. It is always worth considering whether alternative placement could result in higher engagement, even if that means lower reach or frequency.

Finally, TV planning is dominated by demographic targeting, while online video increasingly combines psychographic and contextual attributes, sometimes at the expense of demographics altogether. Insisting on comparable cross-media GRPs could hinder campaign effectiveness by forcing digital planners to accommodate arguably weaker targeting strategies.

Online video will ultimately flourish simply through consumer adoption, and consistent metrics such as GRPs will help accelerate rather than drive investment. Longer term, GRP metrics will become redundant in an IP-enabled world, as more meaningful and robust cross-media metrics emerge."

Bill Day, CEO, Tremor Video

"The digital video space finally offers marketers the ability to measure brand health in real-time during an ad campaign. Unlike a GRP, a real-time brand health measure will expose if a campaign’s “reach” is effective instead of waiting six months for media mix modeling results to reveal lessons learned for the next time.

So why limit ourselves to a measure of gross ratings when we know we can do better? With digital video today, we know in real-time if a creative unit is “in-view” (higher probability of being seen by the consumer), how many people actively and physically engage with the brand – and for how long - and we know the lift between a control and exposed group for each ad unit, as it happens. Taken together, this is a much finer, sharper, more intelligent point of measurement vs. the blunt GRP.

So is it necessary to use a GRP for the digital video advertising model to flourish? Scientifically speaking, the answer is a definitive no. However, we recognize that fewer than one in five decision makers are early adopters. So while these market leaders will reap the lion’s share of the benefits from digital video in the short term, the rest will surely follow."

Jayant Kadambi, co-founder and CEO, YuMe

"An online GRP is an important metric in order to get TV brand advertising dollars to move online at a faster pace since this is the currency buyers are accustomed to. Buyers understand that audiences are fragmenting and consuming video content across multiple devices, but the largest portion of their spending still goes to TV. Therefore, the ability to do an apples-to-apples comparison into the relative impact and success of one medium versus another is critical. It is equally important to combine the two efforts for reach and frequency calculations.

That said, an online GRP is not a silver bullet. There are other issues, such as ad visibility that need to be addressed as well. It doesn’t matter how engaging your creative is or even how accurate your targeting is if no one sees the ad. Click-to-play placements and ensuring the player is in the viewer’s field of vision, so impressions are not wasted, is of paramount importance. As an industry, it is essential that we provide TV brand advertisers with these assurances. Only then will we see the dollars moving at the pace we all want."

Tim Avila, VP, Product Marketing, BrightRoll

"Unfortunately there is no magic bullet measure that will change the current video spending paradigm overnight. Today, television spending is still 30 to 40 times that of online video and this spending differential explains why gross ratings points are still important. Simply put, GRP is a critical measure in a broadcast medium where billions of dollars are spent annually and the direct impact of spending is harder to establish.

GRP matters less online. It’s an insufficient measure in a realm where ad effectiveness can be determined more directly. In fact, better accountability is a well-documented reason for online video’s torrid spending growth. In an interactive medium where advertisers can measure lift in online sales, keyword searches and consumer attitudes in near real-time, aggregate measures like GRP become less important. As online video spending continues to grow, look for GRP to matter less, not more."

Nick Higgins, CRO, Joost

"As an industry, our complexity is something of a setback. The Media Ratings Council has only one company accredited in the US to do TV ratings – Nielsen. But 23 distinct companies have online MRC accreditation, which means we’re reporting a wide range of measures. That’s understandably frustrating to marketers. The GRP discourse is a clear reflection of the industry’s demand for us to streamline ad metrics in a more concise and consistent way.

It's nevertheless interesting to witness the extensive dialogue behind online GRPs, a fairly simple metric that reflects a campaign’s exposure, but not its effectiveness. The dialogue reflects a broader appetite for a common currency with which marketers can compare marketing effectiveness across different platforms. The simplicity of a GRP calculation makes it easily extendible to new advertising platforms. Unfortunately, it’s an oversimplified solution that omits any insight about a campaign’s effectiveness and impact on marketplace outcomes – beneficial insights that we can measure online."

By John Ebbert

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6 Responses to “Is An Online GRP Needed For Online Video Advertising?”


  1. Katelyn says:

    This is a great debate with really legit comentary. I think there are two things needed:

    1. A GRP metric simply for a comparison point so that traditional buyers can understand the language - and for that reason only.

    2. Standard metrics to measure the efficacy of online video. Is it "halo rate" or something that shows what the lift will be to other media? But if we go this route it has to be standardized like CPA and other metrics we use...so, since this probably won't happen for a long time just like we won't have Facebook ad standard metrics for a long time (or ever)...I vote for GRP now..easier for budget holders to "get" and planners to spend:)

  2. Eric Picard says:

    A few simple acid tests for this:

    1. Do any significant brands hold back spend on digital media because there is no comparable GRP or (more importantly) TRP available? The answer is yes.

    2. Is GRP in any way incompatible with any other metrics we rely on in digital media? The answer is No.

    3. Is GRP / TRP hard to calculate, in other words - is there a technical limitation stopping us from doing this? The answer is No.

    So why the hell would anyone argue we shouldn't do it? Because it's different from what they're used to? For goodness sake, this is exactly the argument being used by major brands for not buying online! Don't we want their money???

    Because we have 'better' metrics online? Like the CTR??? Even if better metrics are possible online, we're stuck with the CTR as a primary value - wouldn't you rather have GRP and TRP? They're way better than CTR!

    Eric Picard
    Chief Product Officer, TRAFFIQ

  3. Anne Hunter says:

    GRPs are necessary but not sufficient. It is critical we have a currency for BUYING ads across mediums. A currency based on unique reach and frequency of people counts and not cookies is necessary to have comparability. But that doesn't address the full needs of digital. We must ensure that counts of people are based on ads actually been seen. Ads never viewed or fraudulently delivered shouldn't count.

    This is why comScore has developed the VALIDATED GRP (vGRP) measure to GRPs only from ads that are actually delivered and seen in good content. This provides true comparability with TV measures.

    With a vGRP buying standard established, we can go beyond to real effectiveness measures. With the same tag used for vGRP ratings, comScore clients can also get effectiveness measures such as whether the ad raised brand favorability, drove people to search for the brand, increased social engagement or sold products offline. These effectiveness measures are highly dependent on delivering enough reach at the right frequency to the right audience and benefit from a solid vGRP foundation. It doesn't have to be an either or decision. You can get comparable metrics for buying across mediums and measure the great engagement online advertising can provide in a single tag from comScore.

  4. Gross rating points (GRP’s) are the sum of ratings – the percentage of an audience reached, and not by far the only metric used in TV media planning or buying. Just like traditional media, online video can benefit from this equalization metric and equally just like traditional media, needs to add to ratings richer and insightful decision metrics. Additionally, if the industry decides to misuse the acronym and call the sum of ratings a vGRP or iGRP or eGRP, that will be a disappointment because it’s just math.

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