OK, I know the issue I am about to tackle is a hotbed of controversy, but I am going to do it anyway. Guess I'm a glutton for punishment or something. It's just that I can't stand by and watch so much being said in the industry, in the press and in conference rooms everywhere without speaking up on the topic of the online GRP.
Much has been written on the subject from many leaders in our industry but yet it is still an undefined concept that lacks consensus. To date, I do not believe the models that have been proposed and published take the concept far enough or are even well developed enough to merit usage. Among other missing pieces, the models that I have seen proposed lack an element that is critical component to the idea: a currency that is common between media.
To me, the idea of the online GRP exists for one reason only: to make the translation from television to online video easy and seamless. There are television dollars that are just waiting to shift into video but won't until planners, buyers and advertisers are comfortable with what those dollars are going to by them online as it relates to what they were buying on TV.
I should note here that I believe in online reach and frequency as a way to gauge the potential impact of a campaign. If the online GRP is a byproduct of that, I have no problem with it. But instituting an online GRP for the sake of having another way to express impressions is redundant. I agree with both Jeff Ramsey and Young Bean-Song in that a GRP gives you the denominator that puts your numerator into perspective, but I believe that problem is better solved by looking at reach and frequency as an evolved measurement of the audience.
Adding to the complexity of developing an industry-wide metric is the fact that, regardless of which is higher or lower, online video and television affect people differently and thus the value of an impression on each is, by nature, different. And yeah, once we start talking about the differences between in-stream, in-banner, pre, mid post and different content types online it becomes an even tougher problem to solve...but I digress.
For the online GRP to work, it needs to have three components:
1. Clean counting methodology. ComScore currently counts both content and ads as separate streams. This will change in time, as they are currently working on a fix for this, but this is a major issue as of today. We can't make any accurate projections for site activity if the numbers we have to rely on are cloudy and misleading.
2. Accountability for TV and online universe differences -specifically, factoring in TV viewers who do not have Onternet access. As I stated above, having an online GRP that exists in a silo only to the online world is a non-starter for me. The currency needs to apply to both universes or we will only be talking to ourselves. Trust me when I say this: Clients want to know that an online GRP is the same (in size) as a TV GRP.
3. Recognition that online video and TV work differently. To create a common currency between two media without accounting for the fact that the value/impact of an impression on one is different from the other is like placing the same value on a Bentley and a SmartCar because they are both cars.
I look forward to seeing what we can all come up with. And yes, before someone posts something asking where my online GRP proposal is, we do have a solid one at the agency. Maybe I'll even share it with you...