Welcome to the online GRP Era

The online GRP is here, and it should be giving smaller publications pause. And when we say smaller, we mean everyone smaller than Facebook. Rather than trading in the lingua franca of digital media — clicks, impressions, plays — Facebook is measuring its video reach in online GRPs, and the rest of the industry can’t be far behind.

It makes sense. Online GRPs can measure video reach across screens, including in-app video and in-line video. And with the uptick in mobile video viewing, online video has a real chance to grab a portion of the spend associated with television ads. Nielsen knows this. In the fall, they’ll be wrapping mobile viewing into their cross-screen GRP, giving buyers an apples-to-apples way to gauge placements for their 3-to-6-second iterations of TV spots.

Overall, this is good for the industry. Digital marketers have been debating the best way to get more of those glamorous branding dollars for years. Video is a great way to do that. And while we don’t think that money will come directly from television budgets, it may help buyers justify redirecting money from already-atrophying print and radio budgets.

But not everyone has Facebook’s reach. If Facebook is the CBS of digital media — big, broad and commanding media budgets to match — most digital properties are more like AMC or Bravo, niche and with smaller audiences. How can they compete?

All video advertising, traditional TV included, offer the prospect of raising awareness and tugging at emotion. Any brand-lift study will tell you if the stated GRP is helping a brand turn up those dials.

Advertisers who incorporate video into their campaigns and leave out the elements that allow users to interact with their ads are missing out on the real prize of digital media — engagement. Say what you want about the much-maligned click, but when it comes to layered, rich-media advertising, it is one of a few ways to measure consumer interest in your product.

Behavioral metrics include, but are not limited to, the click. In a rich-media ad, consumers can tap to expand an in-banner video ads, share video socially and answer to call to action. Beyond clicks, these ads can measure video starts and completes, playtime, attention span and time spent with the ad. These metrics are essential to reporting on campaign performance. And they give a great sense of audience health. The better these metrics, the more interested your audience is.

On top of that, by offering ad units that incorporate video and offer additional engagements, publishers and agencies can report on the staying power of their audience, not just their size. And that’s vital to the smaller publishers and agencies that want to tap into their audiences.

Indeed the GRP is good for the industry. It will give a broad frame of reference to how online audiences stack up to television audiences and help digital media buyers justify their strategies. But limiting reporting on sight, sound and motion advertising to traditional TV metrics is folly. Reach and awareness is a key component of any ad play. The smaller publisher’s trump card will be engagement.

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