Web Video Advertisers Want Their GRPs and Web Metrics, Too

When Web video advertising was introduced, there was a lot of talk about TV advertisers requesting that it be sold the same way they were used to buying television: by GRPs, or Gross Ratings Points. Today, online video ad sellers are still up against demands for ads sold the traditional TV way. Yet those very same advertisers want their ads to be measured according to much newer Web metrics.

Most online video industry people don’t want their ad sales based on GRPs, but some advertisers still ask them to discuss their audiences according to that old TV ad framework. Media buyers want agencies and publishers to speak the language they’re accustomed to.

“I do hear GRPs a lot,” said Mike Henry, SVP of advertising sales at Internet TV service Veoh, during this week’s Streaming Media East conference in New York.

“There’s a need for us to be able to [discuss online video ads] in their lingo,” said Carat Media Supervisor Garrett Albanese, who also continues to hear advertisers toss around the term. “It’s not the end all, be all, but they want us to be able to show that.”

While online video ad sellers have long pushed against the use of GRPs, some Web measurement people don’t appreciate it either. Nielsen Online Media Analytics VP Jon Gibs put it bluntly. “I hate the idea of GRPs online; I really despise it,” he said, noting he’s “fighting tooth and nail” against some who want Nielsen Online to measure Web video in GRPs.

GRPs measure reach and frequency of television advertising, and are used to estimate the exposure of TV spots.

While requests for online video ads to be sold in the traditional TV way haven’t stopped, some GRP holdouts demand their campaigns be held to higher Web measurement standards. A portion of them, for instance, want to use direct response metrics such as those based on clicks or conversions. To video publishers, this represents a disconnect; in a way, the TV traditionalists want to have their cake and eat it, too. Online video ad sellers are particularly reluctant to have their ads measured by direct response metrics because they often see video as a branding vehicle.

Christine Cook, SVP Digital Sales at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, lamented the use of direct response metrics for gauging results of video ads, particularly those running in highly-branded content such as what’s shown on MarthaStewart.com. If the goal of a campaign is for people to visit a store, advertisers sometimes believe their Web video effort failed if it didn’t hit their conversion or click-through numbers.

“We’re still stuck on how many people found the store,” she said. “If we don’t have enough people coming to the store… [advertisers] say it didn’t work.” Ads in other media such as film trailers shown in theaters aren’t held to such stringent standards, she contended.

Web video ad sellers don’t like the idea of their ads being commodified by GRP measures because they believe in the branding capabilities of their content. “It puts you in a position of being monetized that I think a lot of people aren’t comfortable with,” said Nielsen Online’s Gibs.

He explained that when considering GRPs, TV advertisers take into account a certain amount of waste, or ad exposures that may not have been seen by targeted viewers. Applying that method to the Web, he said, is problematic because television campaigns typically have more wasted impressions than Web campaigns. Thus, the number or equation an ad buyer should apply to account for waste ought to be different for online video than it is for TV.

Another challenge to Web-basd GRPs is audience duplication. When running ads on both Web and TV, “You can’t un-duplicate the audiences,” said Peter Naylor, SVP Digital Media Sales, NBC Universal.

Naylor also suggested TV media buyers often want online video buys to come out of their television budgets rather than digital budgets, since they perceive the online components to be extensions of their TV buys. So, naturally they demand TV-related buying methods. “There’s still a lot of friction,” in terms of whose budget the Web video ad buy is coming from, he observed.

This is not a one-way street though. Carat’s Albanese said digital advertising also influences television advertising. Today, advertisers want more information about their TV campaigns to better gauge outcome, and he thinks this is partially inspired by online advertising.

“The Web will always be the most accountable medium, but they’re becoming more accountable, too,” he said.

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