Is iGRP Dumbing Down Digital?

The concept of gross rating point (GRP) originated from TV advertising and it has long been the accepted standard by marketers. However, with the emergence of digital, consumer behavior is shifting sharply from TV to online video. Hence the birth of the iGRP, which utilizes similar reach and frequency metrics but calculated within the netizens’ universe. This methodology gave traditional marketers an easy transition from TV to online TV (OTV), and paved the way for significant online pre-roll investments.

However, many digital marketers, especially direct response and search marketers, have criticized the iGRP as dumbing down digital. The argument against iGRP is based on the fact that we have much more data collected from OTV channels compared to traditional TV advertising. Traditional TV data are heavily focused on demographics, which are based on the limited sample size of people meter data. But with digital, we can judge the on target reach based on behavior data such as click-through rate (CTR), or back-end analytics data like bounce rate and time on site.

With new behavioral datasets, digital marketers see the usage of iGRPs as taking quite a step back in measurement. Especially with the emergence of video demand side platforms (DSP) that can serve pre-rolls based on brand-owned demand management platforms (DMP). This means I should no longer worry about on target reach, because all pre-rolls served using brand owned DMP data should inherently be the target advertising (TA), whether the pre-roll is served through retargeting based on previous website visits, or served through prospecting possible TA based on similar browsing behaviors.

While the arguments against the usage of iGRP are all valid, it fails to take account the very nature of video advertising. Comparing the video format against banners or text based pay-per-click (PPC) ads, pre-rolls have a higher emotional impact on consumers, which assists in brand recall as well as preference. That’s why TV advertising has prevailed over the ages and continues to be a high-impact media format in today’s age. Hence the value of video advertising lies in the impression, not the click. Therefore, performance based metrics like CTR, and back-end Web analytic metrics like bounce rate are merely the cherry on top.

Even though digital was born with interactivity in its genes, measuring pre-rolls based on CTR and website bounce rate unfairly compares the video format against direct response channels like search and targeted display. From a consumer’s perspective, pre-rolls are inherently a disruptive media format; hence CTRs are going very low (averaging 0.5 percent in the China market). Compare those CTR numbers with search, which averages around 1 to 3 percent CTR, marketers will no doubt select PPC based on higher interactivity. For action-driven campaigns like lead generation or e-commerce, CTR is definitely a valid and important metric for media evaluation. But for FMCG branding campaigns, exposure through TVC is more than adequate, so we shouldn’t discount the simple reach and frequency measurements that the iGRP gives us.

In the end, iGRP have served as a catalyst in driving traditional marketer’s acceptance of OTV channels. We shouldn’t establish the relationship between iGRP and other digital metrics as one or the other. Instead, we should look at additional digital metrics like viewability and CTR alongside with the iGRP. And with new mobile and pad clients growing more prominent, we could be seeing additional mobile metrics coming onto the scene. All these data points can further help us get a more complete 360-degree view of the consumer, on top of the media-buying benchmarks that iGRP gives us.

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