Online media is infinitely measurable. Advertisers can tell you click-through rates, impressions, viewability and engagement rates. Data crunchers can tell you what device an ad was viewed on, where it was viewed, its long-tail effect on buyer-purchase behaviour, the age of the viewer, the sex and very likely, their income level.
But all along, what seems to have been needed to convince marketers of the effectiveness of advertising online may have been a measurement that TV media planners have used for decades—the gross rating point or GRP.
The irony is not lost on Gilad Coppersmith, Mediabrands Worldwide’s SVP of digital and innovation catalyst for its world markets. “I’m torn,” he says of the introduction of digital GRP, a measurement that benchmarks online videos and display ads against TV advertising. “On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense to know the role of video versus TV, but I’m disappointed we’re going back to simple exposure metrics.”
But the move is necessary, he concedes. “What I hope will happen is we will have a far more appropriate and balanced allocation of money between digital and traditional, because we’re speaking the same language now.”
Although it has been in use in the US for more than two years and in the UK for about a year, digital GRPs are only now being introduced to Asia.
This article is from the September 2013 Campaign Asia-Pacific
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First up was TubeMogul which last month launched its BrandPoint platform in 12 markets in the region. BrandPoint is an online interactive tool that enables media planners to forecast, plan and optimise online video ad buying (only via TubeMogul) based on a formula the video DSP believes matches TV GRPs.
TubeMogul Asia-Pacific director Phu Truong says: “By using the total target population, not just online, we’re providing transparency and accuracy. There will be some cases where the target audience is not that present online, [when] it will cost less to buy TV, and this metric will show when it is the case.”
ComScore plans to launch its online GRP reach and frequency planning tool in Asia-Pacific this month. Nielsen is expected to launch its Online Campaign Ratings solution in a Southeast Asian market, after introducing it to Australia in May. Both offerings use panels to gauge ad viewership—a similar methodology to measuring TV GRP and one that allows digital GRPs to be benchmarked against TV.
Nielsen’s OCR for example is the result of an “exclusive arrangement” between Nielsen and Facebook, says Nielsen’s regional media industry group managing director Paul Fisher. This gives it access to anonymous Facebook demographic data, creating a panel that helps Nielsen gauge who has seen an online ad and determine a GRP. “It’s probably the biggest panel in the world,” he says.
This sudden interest shown by research companies in Asia-Pacific is largely due to the region’s growing online advertising market, which surpassed Western Europe by US$2 billion last year to reach $27.3 billion, according to eMarketer. It is also driven by the high penetration of online video viewership which, according to ComScore data was 79 per cent in China last June, 85 per cent in Singapore and nearly 90 per cent in Vietnam.
“Ultimately, content owners want to be able to measure who saw their content across all screens and advertisers want to be able to measure advertising, and we’re trying to make this happen,” says Fisher. It’s a race for adoption that the digital GRP is likely to win. “It is the TV metric, and the marketing community understands GRPs and wants to use it across all screens.”
Nielsen and ComScore view their offerings as stepping-stones towards cross-platform campaign ratings, but the industry needs to work together a lot more for a true cross-media metric to be accepted as an industry standard, says ComScore VP for Southeast Asia Kerry Jane Brown. “We provide metrics for online. For it to be cross-media, it needs to be combined with other data sets that other vendors, like Nielsen and Kantar, own.
“We need to work together to standardise because it’s crazy out there. It’s great that companies are introducing these initiatives, but we should try and do it together instead of separately.”
If the region does achieve a standardised cross-platform metric it should see marketers shift their budgets towards online advertising, says Bruno Fiorentini Jr, general manager of advertising and online for Australia, Korea and Southeast Asia for Microsoft Advertising. “There is a clear push from advertisers; if they have metrics that benchmark TV against online and find the latter more effective, of course they will migrate ad spend.”
In the US, online video spend is expected to more than double from $2 billion in 2011 to $4.14 billion this year, according to eMarketer.
While pleased that progress is being made, Coppersmith hopes the industry will progress beyond the GRP. “The effectiveness of TV GRPs has been in debate for more than 20 years and I have no confidence we will ever crack it. But we have kind of lumped ourselves on the lowest common denominator metric which is exposure.”
What’s truly needed, he adds, is a metric that evaluates the effectiveness of different media vehicles. In Malaysia, Mediabrands has begun developing a metric that measures the impact of advertising on different platforms in the form of the video rating point. While feedback has been good, it is unlikely to take off as an industry-wide standard any time soon as it remains an in-agency tool.
“In the end, if GRPs is the language we need to speak right now to give confidence and help planners allocate budget, then so be it,” says Coppersmith. “But my hope is that we take this further.”