Home On TV & Video For TV, GRPs Are Out, And Impressions Are In

For TV, GRPs Are Out, And Impressions Are In


On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video. 

Today’s column is by Brie Pinnow, co-founder and principal consultant at Blinc.

Gross ratings points were once the foundational currency for billions in TV ad spend. Today, this metric is a data dinosaur that’s just not cutting it in our multiscreen and multiservice world. 

But if the GRP disappears, how will this billion-dollar industry transact? The answer is simple: impressions. 

As viewership behavior has evolved, both TV buyers and sellers were increasingly forced to deal with digital inventory (CTV). Impressions are the standard metric in the CTV environment, which means there’s been a surge in support and comfort around this currency. And this trend will only continue. According to the IAB, connected TV ad spend is expected to hit $21.1 billion this year, up 39% YOY.

Sellers are on board, too. Hearst Television proudly touts that, in 2021, they moved toward impression-based selling as they believe “impressions give a more accurate representation of reach. Consumers can choose from multiple platforms, fragmenting audiences and creating many universes to analyze. This ensures that all viewers, on all screens, are counted.”

In short, with the GRP on shaky grounds, impressions are ready to claim the throne. Here’s why:

1. The data exists

If millions of individual and household viewership data points exist thanks to ACR and STB data sources, why rely on small panels and tens of thousands of metered TVs for estimates? 

Even if the scale and accuracy could be improved, household-level ad-impression data being captured today far outweighs and simplifies outdated panel-based GRP measurement methodologies.

2. Impressions enable true cross-screen strategies


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The nirvana of advertising is effectively reaching your ideal audience wherever they are. By relying on impressions, you shift the media’s value to reaching specific eyeballs, rather than how, what or when they watch. 

With impressions, linear and streaming are no longer in silos. Instead, they are part of one larger video strategy where buyers can turn up or down the dial on the media mix.

3. TV and digital teams can speak the same language

Many agencies and brand teams are still experiencing an internal tug of war. Which team is responsible for the ever-growing streaming budget – the TV or the digital team? By building TV plans around impressions, it not only opens the door to better consumer journey analytics but invites either team – digital or TV – to guide the strategy while effectively communicating with their counterpart.

4. Impressions enable in-flight fluidity to hit key audiences

What is fluidity? Essentially, it’s shifting dollars seamlessly between different types of inventory – whether it’s linear, CTV, OTT or even specific programs – to reach a particular audience. It’s not only an obvious benefit for advertisers but a huge win for the sell side.

The pain of underdelivery is a common complaint among TV buyers – some see underdelivery rates as high as 20%. And sellers suffer, too. 

The make-good process following underdelivery is extra work for both parties that could be better spent looking forward. I spoke with one buyer who suggested overbuying media by 20% and contracting for cash back instead of make-goods to avoid the frustration. Simply put, no one wants underdelivery.

By focusing on impressions, dollars can be shifted to ensure delivery goals are met during the campaign.

5. Brands can measure metrics that matter

Buying based on impressions does not currently guarantee that the impressions will be identifiable for attribution. But that dream is slowly becoming a reality. 

Today, measurement companies help advertisers link their spend (and ultimately impressions) back to key outcomes like website visits, online purchases, door-swings and app downloads. 

The consistent impression thread between TV and digital is necessary to fully understand a customer’s journey.

The industry is taking the journey together

The move from ratings to impressions isn’t a surprise to those that have long been pushing TV to play more seamlessly with other channels. 

What is surprising is seeing the shift happening at so many levels and from all sides simultaneously. The GRP is being peacefully laid to rest, and impressions are ushering in a new era of more powerful planning, targeting and measurement. 

Follow Brie Pinnow (@BriennaP) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

For more articles featuring Brie Pinnow, click here.

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