Two Steps Forward and One Big Step Back: GRP

I receive different newsletters each morning from digital media industry sites & blogs.  The headline in today’s MediaPost was “Nielsen to Industry Analysts:  We’ve Created a ‘Currency,” says GroupM to Guarantee Ad Buys.”  This caught my attention as I’ve been fairly public about my stance about shifting away from proxy based measurement into hard metrics for marketing and advertising*.

It seems like much of the industry is getting behind GRP’s within the digital world.  I continue to think this is a mistake.    Here are some of my reasons why:

  1. GRP’s are used for understanding how often you are reaching your targeted audience (reach + frequency).  This measurement is not a business moving KPI.  This becomes a business moving measurement when you can tie GRP levels to store/e-com sales.
  2. There is inherent waste in GRP’s.  These points are calculated on an audience, but we all know that your target audience is not the only audience that is buying your product**.
  3. Infrastructure exists to measure beyond GRP’s, yet many folks are in denial about it.   While a large bundle of media dollars are in television advertising and that’s measured by GRP’s today, television is becoming video (not the other way around) and should be measured on actions, rather than reach.   TV measurement should migrate to digital media measurement as televisions become more like computers.

It is easy to understand why people are talking about GRP’s.  I meet with at least 5 startups a week who are going after brand dollars and those brand dollars are measured by GRP’s.  Nielsen, comScore, and others are releasing products that measure the online equivalent to the offline GRP.  As I said above and I’ll continue to say again and again, measuring your marketing by GRP’s is dumb.   Hey public company CMO, on your next earnings call with Wall Street, are you going to tell the Street that you reached your audience and bought 250 points per week and don’t know why they didn’t convert?

Measure.  Optimize.  Repeat.  Go beyond the GRP.

I’m on a bit of a rant this morning.  Just wait until you hear my rant for start-ups going after “brand dollars.”

* Barry Lowenthal’s piece on GRP’s Is a Lazy Metric

** See my piece I wrote for a 4A’s conference in 2010 on a concept called “de-averaging: changing the media planning paradigm

  • http://www.interpretllc.com Michael Dowling

    Hey Darren, appreciate you taking the “heat” for saying what’s been a lot of our minds. I’m curious, though, are you advocating for the same type of digital media measurement that exists for online today? Meaning, actions = clicks? If so, you are merely replacing one cat chasing its tail with another. Granted, this newer cat will catch its tail twice out of every 1000 rotations, but its the wrong metric to apply to video. The reason brand advertisers continue to spend money on television, and aren’t shifting wholesale dollars to online, isn’t because they need someone to tell them reach, frequency or clicks. Its because brand marketers know television delivers an emotional impact. Online hasn’t proven that yet. Nor can it. At least not easily. Larger post for another time, but while online has the potential to be a powerful and creative delivery mechanism for brand marketers, its fundamentally not set up to deliver on that promise. The ecosystem does a great job of providing tools for cost-per-performance optimization, but it doesn’t currently support brand marketers with the metrics they need to run their businesses successfully.

  • http://www.interpretllc.com Michael Dowling

    Hey Darren, appreciate you taking the “heat” for saying what's been a lot of our minds. I'm curious, though, are you advocating for the same type of digital media measurement that exists for online today? Meaning, actions = clicks? If so, you are merely replacing one cat chasing its tail with another. Granted, this newer cat will catch its tail twice out of every 1000 rotations, but its the wrong metric to apply to video. The reason brand advertisers continue to spend money on television, and aren't shifting wholesale dollars to online, isn't because they need someone to tell them reach, frequency or clicks. Its because brand marketers know television delivers an emotional impact. Online hasn't proven that yet. Nor can it. At least not easily. Larger post for another time, but while online has the potential to be a powerful and creative delivery mechanism for brand marketers, its fundamentally not set up to deliver on that promise. The ecosystem does a great job of providing tools for cost-per-performance optimization, but it doesn't currently support brand marketers with the metrics they need to run their businesses successfully.