Can an Online Video GRP Measure Success?


Television is the dominant ad medium for many advertisers, as witnessed by the 2013 upfront, which will realize nearly $20 billion in TV advertising. Yet every year more people choose to watch at least some television content online. It’s one reason why eMarketer estimates that more than $4 billion will be spent on online video advertising this year. And that spend is expected to double by 2016.

As online video finds its way into consumer consumption habits, marketers and agencies are looking at how it is measured and evaluating how online video metrics can be combined with a brand’s television plan and metrics.

GRPs as an Online Metric
Digital advertisers have typically avoided using the gross rating point (GRP) measurement because, in general, GRPs aren’t the best metric for online media. GRPs don’t measure the reasons that most advertisers use online media — to generate response through clicks and other post-exposure metrics to understand intent, engagement and/or action. Online media also has tremendous targeting abilities, such as behavior, belief, lifestyle and other factors beyond age and gender.

As full-episode players like Hulu gain traction, however, advertisers should look at how this advertising exposure combines with television for a full picture of video advertising delivery. While these considerations may not apply to short-form video and digital display, online GRPs are recommended for all full-length online video advertising plans.

Two Methods of Measurement
Companies like Nielsen and comScore measure online GRPs — usually through two different services.

  • Viewability ensures the digital ads were fully loaded to the visible page and didn’t end up in the margins or “below the fold” of the screen.
  • Validated, or verified, GRPs confirm the delivery of impressions to the desired target audience.

While both metrics are important, viewability is essential. A comScore study estimates up to 54 percent of ads do not load fully, or they load in areas invisible to the viewer. The IAB recommends that the industry move from a server-based standard to a viewable-based standard, but right now the best way to ensure viewability is to purchase viewability verification.

Moving in the Right Direction, but not There Yet
Viewability and verification have potential as the industry makes strides in creating tools to validate and align digital measurement with well-known traditional metrics. But there are still flaws within the online GRP metric.

  • It’s based on the opportunity for exposure instead of the actual individual exposure.
  • Reach and frequency will be low relative to TV, unless the online campaign is large.
  • Findings may not be actionable if the campaign relies on ad networks, ad exchanges or demand side platforms.
  • Target delivery may seem low, but should be compared to other campaigns and media to determine benchmarks.
  • Tagging methodology is limited to simple impression delivery regardless of any user interaction with the ad.

Of course, online video measurement is still in its youth. Media is Power will keep an eye on the space and report on relevant developments. In the meantime, check out our take on the current state of online video.

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Julie Pahutski
Julie Pahutski

Julie Pahutski leads Empower’s Decision Sciences practice, which is responsible for media measurement, market research, and digital/web analytics. Her passion is data, whether it is for advanced targeting, media analysis, attribution modeling, or dashboarding. She spearheaded the creation of many proprietary tools at Empower, including Impact Moments® and MAPS (a geographical targeting system).