As the industry moves toward adopting ad viewability and online GRP style metrics, it is also learning how best - and when - to apply them.
To GRP or not to GRP? It's been a question in the digital ad world - particularly when it comes to video ads - for years. Agencies, measurement firms, and industry trade groups are a bit closer to settling disagreements over whether to measure online ad inventory in GRPs, and which equations to use to get there. But there is also the question of when and how to apply online GRPs in conjunction with more classic digital ad metrics.
It's not a GRP vs. digital situation, said Thomas Acquaviva, SVP strategic accounts at Nielsen Online. "There's a balancing act between defining online media as special," and determining how best to compare it to other media, he said, speaking at a conference today hosted by TV and video ad buying and selling platform firm Adap.tv.
Not only should an online GRP metric be used along with metrics developed for digital ads such as CTRs and completed views; they sometimes should be used during different stages in the campaign process, Acquaviva suggested.
Photo: Thomas Acquaviva, Nielsen and Anne Hunter, SVP Advertising Effectiveness Products, comScore, at Adap.tv conference
As it has been historically in TV buying, the GRP works as a standard for informing media buying and selling at the transaction level. Nielsen's GRP-like Online Campaign Ratings are being used on the buy and sell side "to transact based on audience guarantees," he said. In other words, he said, GRP-style metrics are suitable when it comes to answering who to buy from, how much, and what to pay.
"We're crossing the chasm from measurement to transaction," he added.
Nielsen introduced the Online Campaign Ratings about a year ago, and the way in which clients are using the metrics is evolving. Digital publishers, for instance, are moving away from using a metric tracking the number of ad impressions that were "on target" - in terms of reaching the desired audience - as a means of proving value to advertisers.
"It's not material to the advertiser," Acquaviva told ClickZ after speaking on stage at the conference, held at New York's hip Dream Downtown hotel. What they want is a guarantee that they can reach a particular audience through the site or sites in question, he said.
While CTRs, completed views, and other digital ad metrics come into play when measuring post-campaign, they can also be used to better gauge value of media in the transaction stage. "They could inform how much an advertiser is willing to pay for digital media and selection. A publisher might be paid a premium because of those characteristics," he continued.
"People are very reluctant to deal with impressions," said Donnie Williams, chief digital officer of Horizon Media, speaking on stage at the conference during a separate conversation. Noting he aims to buy only "viewable" inventory soon, he added, "We're starting to see supply showing up in certain areas" that will facilitate that.
Many Ad Industry Roads Lead to Online GRPs
Though players are taking varying routes, the online ad industry is moving toward marrying digital metrics with the ever-trusted GRP. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, for example, is on a mission to develop GRP-inspired audience impression metrics - especially important for brand advertisers - with a means of gauging interactivity with those ad impressions.
In July, the trade group said it expects the industry to begin to phase out reliance on the ad impressions-served metric and replace it with the viewable impressions metric by the first quarter of 2013. Also by that time the IAB and its partners in the initiative expect advertisers and publishers to be using its eGRP metric, which industry players hope will enhance the viewable impression metric with a more audience-focused measure that speaks to brand advertisers.
ComScore is working toward a simliar goal, and hopes its Campaign Essentials viewability metrics help get it there. In August the firm said it would provide ad viewability metrics for ads placed through the VivaKi Nerve Center's Audience on Demand. VivaKi is Publicis Groupe's digital agency network.
"The initial deployment of this new viewability metric has been reactionary: launch a campaign, understand which ads are performing well, then pulling the lever to optimize on that," Mike Zeman, VP, solutions, VivaKi Nerve Center, told ClickZ at the time.
"We're trying to actually develop insights so we can become predictive and, from a pre-bid standpoint, factor viewability into inventory we're willing to deploy our advertising on and into how much we're willing to pay for those impressions," he said.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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