The concept of gross rating points (GRPs) is not new, as every advertiser familiar with TV media acknowledges it to be the standard measurement used for TV ads. iGRP was the subsequent application of the metric to digital media—making measurement of the overall impact of an online advertisement possible by agencies such as WPP-owned Miaozhen Systems (partnering with Millward Brown) and AdMaster within the mainland.
AdMaster, an independent provider of digital marketing performance tracking and analytics in China, has computed GRP and its derivative measurements (reach and frequency) into a new currency for social media on both internet and mobile devices.
Equipped with double cookie-ID technology and open API partnerships with leading social media platforms in China (Sina, Tencent for instance), the agency has amassed a database of more than 500 million stable cookies, excluding unstable ones at places like internet cafes.
"Every single internet user, represented by a unique cookie, would have been reached at least once by one of our 300 clients whom we track for," Calvin Chan, vice-president of strategy and insights at AdMaster, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
Traditionally, an advertiser can track who sees its banner ads, how many clicks they receive, how many registrations, and then it is the end of the campaign chain. Now, the agency is attempting to get a complete picture of a campaign's reach on social media as well as video sites, thanks to impression codes, click codes, and site interaction codes planted on participating websites.
"I can track how one particular user sees a Youku ad, clicked it, landed on a campaign site, made a registration or trial request, spread it on Weibo—the full circle of a consumer's online journey," Chan explained. "Other ad tracking tool providers are not able to have in-depth data of the user's ad interaction history and social behaviour".
Comprehensive tracking is all well and good, but bringing ROI value to advertisers through a single set of KPIs that are comparable and syndicated is something new for advertisers.
AdMaster CEO Vincent Yan stated that the concept of 'social GRP' is "directionally innovative", after introducing it for the first time to clients in a series of seminars held last month.
"We are aiming at thought leadership in the industry when it comes to 'social GRP', based on fundamental technology on tracking real impressions," he said. "This indicator will resonate with TV-savvy clients. iGRPs were created for old-school marketers in order for them to understand online video better. Now this same measurement language is meant for them to understand new-school Weibo better. Otherwise, it's like talking about centimetres to people who are more clued-in about inches."
"I believe we are the only player in China doing what we do," added Chan. As an example, Chan picked a particularly popular Weibo entry by Durex posted in June this year. "There were three million unique views of that Weibo video from users within Beijing, and dividing that number by the total base of the Sina Weibo population in the city, we obtain reach, [and] multiply it by average frequency of the post for the final 'social GRP' of 56 among a male target audience," he said.
"From a viral video point of view, to get a 'social GRP' of 56 is good, relatively speaking, he pointed out.
However, Yan admitted that there is still room for improvement for this 'social GRP' indicator, which will be more accurate upon higher data transparency from social media platforms.