I began my love of data-driven marketing nearly a decade ago when I started at The Nielsen Company. While my time there was limited to the Consumer Packaged Goods and Telecommunications industries, I was hard pressed to get away from the heart of the Nielsen business—or at least what they were best known for—their television ratings. That’s where I started to become familiar with terms like Gross Rating Point (GRP), which is:
“A unit of measurement of audience size. It is used to measure the exposure to one or more programs or commercials, without regard to multiple exposures of the same advertising to individuals. One GRP = 1% of TV households.” (Source: Nielsen Media Research)
GRP is the foundation by which media buyers compare the advertising strength of various media vehicles. So why should digital marketers care? Nielsen, in addition to other companies like Comscore, wants to give marketers new GRP-like metrics by which to measure the effectiveness of their advertising efforts across channels (TV and online).
Aside from providing a single lens for viewing performance across platforms, a GRP-type metric would also lend itself to informing advertisers on how much they would be willing to pay for certain digital media impressions. This could change the way advertisers currently manage their online bidding—only paying for those impressions that they feel will be most valuable to their business. The end goal would be to obtain the highest possible GRPs at the lowest possible cost, while remaining focused on the target market—all of this now being done across both TV and online channels.
As with any foray into new metrics and crossing the chasm of advertising channels, there are pros and cons to the idea of using GRPs. Critics have argued that GRPs are not a guarantee, but rather an estimation of the audience that could be reached and, therefore, aren’t the best gauge for what media channels are the most effective. On the other hand, this is one of the first efforts to bring TV and online channels together and I applaud the effort. I believe this is an inevitable step in the evolution of advertising and will continue to be a focus for marketers as they continue to maximize budgets, refine their advertising and hone in on high-value customers.
While these digital GRP metrics are relegated to mostly display advertising channels at this time, who’s to say search isn’t far behind? With search retargeting now becoming a reality, a search GRP system could be on the horizon as well.