Gabey Goh
Sep 30, 2015

Will Facebook's play for TV dollars succeed in Asia?

Facebook has launched a new product that lets advertisers plan, buy and measure video ads the same way they do for TV. Will it make a dent in TV budgets in Asia?


In a move aimed at nabbing a share of traditional media ad spend, Facebook has launched a new product that lets advertisers plan, buy and measure video ads on the social-media platform using total rating points (TRPs).

The TRP is Facebook's version of GRPs (gross rating points), which have been used for TV ad planning and measurement since the 1950s.

The company stated that marketers can plan a campaign across TV and Facebook with a TRP target in mind, and they can buy a share of those TRPs directly with Facebook.

“Then, Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings measurement system can verify Facebook’s in-target TRP delivery, and Nielsen’s Total Ad Ratings system can verify the TRP delivery for Facebook and television combined,” the company said in an announcement released just before the start of the annual Advertising Week trade event currently taking place in New York City.

This offering has been in the works since July. Industry commentators have noted that this was a way for Facebook to make itself more attractive to marketers looking at where they should spend their typically larger TV budgets.

Since February, Facebook has reported 25 per cent growth in the number of active advertisers on the platform globally—numbering more than 2 million.

In response to queries from Campaign Asia-Pacific, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that within Asia-Pacific, the offering is currently available only in Australia. However there is no confirmed timeline for rollout in other Asian markets.

“Dentsu Aegis was the first agency to test the TRP buying tool in the US and UK, and have been consulting on the functionality and execution of the product throughout," the spokesperson said. "Since those initial tests every major advertising holding company has tested the product." 

Derek Laney, head of product marketing, Asia Pacific, at Salesforce, believes this is a “transient thing” for the platform, as Facebook tries to reinvent itself to talk the way traditional above-the-line advertising talks, “because they want the big dollars”.

“Reality is, smart marketers are not going to just transition their above-the-line budgets straight to digital and try to do exact same thing and blanket Facebook with ‘hey buy my product’ messages,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “You’ve got targeting abilities now, and Facebook knows this. But they are trying to slowly change the perception and speak to the way things are, and then change to the way they should be.”

Laney added that the company eventually wants brands to be able to use their CRM data along with Facebook’s intelligence and have it work together. For example, if a brand is building a database of people at risk of osteoporosis, Facebook happens to know all the other people who look like the ones that the brand knows.

“So you take your little database and tell Facebook, can you find me all the people that are like this, and then let’s talk to them about this important issue for them because it’s going to be relevant and help me educate,” he said. “That’s the way they want to go, but for now they need to talk to advertisers in a way they’re used to, and that’s old school above-the-line numbers.”

A future dent in Asian TV budgets?

Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Giles Henderson, director, media and channels at VML Qais, pointed out that buying video on a GRP basis has been available in Asia for a while now via selected video DSPs and trading desks. 

These options for ad agencies and brand marketers were introduced to the region as early as 2013, when TubeMogul, ComScore and Nielsen launched their own measurement offerings that mirrored traditional TV planning tools for the digital sphere.

“There are also rumours of Google launching something similar for YouTube soon,” he said. “The benefit of digital GRP buying, compared to traditional TV, is the granularity of the targeting available. And Facebook’s entry to the market is really just an extension of their already available Reach & Frequency buying model.” 

Henderson added that by enabling TV advertisers to measure the multiplier effect of Facebook on a TV campaign—or even the ability to replace a TV campaign—the company is upping the ante for the rest of the market. 

“Tech providers will follow suit and ultimately we’ll see a greater shift in budgets,” he said.

Derek Tan, regional senior partner, social media, APAC at IPG Mediabrands, noted that at the moment, there is a huge gap in confidence about metrics across the various media channels.

He added that Facebook believes the implication of its new offering could become useful during the campaign planning process and enable marketers to measure and calibrate campaigns without having to isolate screens and platforms separately.

“Clients who want to move their money in TV to other screens want to find a measurable conduit to allow for relative benchmarking," Tan said. "Facebook’s offering is aimed at becoming a bridge via which ads across both screens can be measured without separately recognizing the differing roles these platforms play in a consumer’s life.”

Tan believes that in Asia, where TV is still the dominant media, marketers may welcome the familiar measurement to bridge the gap, and that the move has the potential to open up more advertising revenue for Facebook.

“However my belief is that this would be experimental until the common conduit of GRP proves its merit,” he added. “At the same time, Facebook risks diluting the digital metrics it has set for itself.”  

Henderson noted that there could potentially be an impact on traditional TV budgets, especially in countries such as Singapore, where nearly 80 per cent of the population is watching digital video on a daily basis, and video has a greater penetration into the market than traditional TV, thus sensible advertisers and agencies will shift their spend accordingly. 

“It really comes down to the individual markets as to which is more effective, video or TV,” he added. “The combination of Facebook and YouTube both providing GRP buying methods will have a serious impact throughout APAC, but TV still serves a purpose and it should not be forgotten about so quickly.”

Henderson pointed out that the question should also be raised as to whether GRPs are a particularly good method of buying advertising, as the simple overlay of impressions against the target audience universe doesn’t necessarily give the best insights into how effective a campaign will be. 

“Fortunately for digital media as a whole, there is a much greater level of data out there compared to TV advertising,” he added. “What isn’t taken into account though is that TV is still a far more impactful advertising medium than digital—a multi-channel approach to this type of advertising is a much preferred route to ensure a combination of awareness, impact and measurability.”

Tan echoed a similar sentiment, with the belief that Facebook’s move will open new points of contention because the entire purpose of both screens and mediums are different.

“The state of mind a consumer is in when interacting with TV and when on social media are completely different," Tan said. "Even the concept of virality is only something associated with social media and not with TV. So while marketers may be willing to experiment, unless the conversation quickly shifts to placing Facebook video in the larger commerce funnel conversation, the shift towards Facebook GRP will not leave a dent in the broader TV budgets.”

Facebook recently unveiled its new Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore. Located on the 22nd floor of South Beach Tower, the huge four-story office features lofty corridors, an anti-gravity Instagram booth and a beer garden. See our photo gallery here.


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