What Digital Video Advertisers Can Learn About Measurement From DRTV

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

Today’s column is written by Patrick Hopf, founder and president at SourceKnowledge.

Unless you have a hard conversion point on your website, measuring ad performance can be a tricky game.

This is especially true for advertisers who run massive branding campaigns for consumer goods. If a brand is already globally recognized, how do marketers know if their campaigns are really moving the needle, especially for purchases that require longer consideration cycles?

For those marketing Range Rover or Florida tourism, how do they measure the success of their campaigns?

Taking a page from the direct response television (DRTV) advertising playbook may be a smart way to drive results that are significantly more precise than awareness metrics. By adding a specific audience response metric to an ad, brands can better see how it impacts viewer behavior – particularly when there is a long sales cycle or no hard conversion metric. 

In the TV advertising ecosystem, the gross rating point (GRP) still dominates the ad buy. GRP measures ad impact, based on a calculation of percentage of the target market reached, multiplied by exposure frequency. It’s far less precise at understanding outcomes then DRTV methodology – or at least, measurement of advertising spend effectiveness in a GRP environment is delayed until actual sales data can be correlated. As opposed to GRP, marketers who track website visits within a predetermined timeframe after viewing an ad will have a much better metric to optimize against. 

GRP may work well enough for traditional TV ads, but these metrics have always been fluffy at best. Honestly, I’ve always found its adoption as an online video metric surprising. Target market data comes from measurement giant Nielsen exclusively. It’s based on a TV viewership that represents less than half a percent of US households and doesn’t account for DVRs, switching devices or people just leaving the room when commercials run. It’s hard to understand why GRP has so much weight in television advertising and much less in digital, when we have the tools and data for more accountability.

What makes more sense is measuring brand advertising the same way we measure direct response – even if there is no specific call to action or conversion. It can be done, and it’s surprising that more advertisers aren’t yet adopting this methodology.

Advertisers using GRP are likely targeting a very specific audience with a campaign, and their success metrics should be based on the impact the campaign has on that audience. Impact, in an ideal world, should refer not just to views but to action. If consumers in a target demo saw the ad, did they go to the site? Did they share something? Did they buy something?

These are actions that are not traditionally tracked in brand advertising, but by attaching performance metrics to a digital video advertising buy, they can be. For example, what if an advertiser tagged everyone from its target demo who saw the ad? Most advertisers could tell if they visited its landing page or website within 24 hours of viewing that specific ad, even if they didn’t click through. Brand marketers would be able to see what actions these potential clients took – if they made their way to the site organically within 5 minutes, 10 minutes or within a day of seeing the ad. 

Use cases are easy to illustrate: A major soft drink brand could track visits to its site within 5 minutes of watching its video online as success metric. An automotive marketer might gauge how many users priced a car after an ad exposure. Travel sites that sell via marketplaces could monitor how much interest their advertisements generate and the routes consumers take to get to their sites. Other marketers can gain insight into predefined microconversions, including time on site, visits to a particular page on the site or if users engaged with a store finder or similar tool. 

By using this type of metric and attaching a time limit to it – say, 24 hours – marketers can learn how effective their advertising is to their target audience. This is a much better measurement of ad effectiveness than GRP because marketers gain actionable insights that can not only impact sales, but against which they can optimize their ad creative. These qualified site visits provide verifiable proof that target demos are engaging and reacting to video advertising in ways that matter.

In my eyes, this measurement is essentially the flipside of GRP, and it’s much more accountable and useful. In the absence of a direct conversion point, this could be the way forward for digital video advertisers who want to see the immediate effectiveness of their campaigns – along with the hard data to prove it.

Follow SourceKnowledge (@SourceKnowledge) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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