Did you see the joint research published by the ANA and Forrester this year? Sixty-two percent of respondents think TV ads have become less effective in the past two years. What's the market's reaction? Lots of talk about seismic change and then, drum roll please, more money is spent on TV. Man, those guys on the broadcast side have it good.
We're not TV bashers here. Yet we believe zealously in online video and think more advertisers should be including it and/or increasing it in their media mix, because we have the data and insights to show it works for a number of marketer objectives particularly as a complement to TV: in creating awareness, driving engagement, lifting brand metrics, and, yes, even in driving traffic. Yet, by all statistical measures online video ad spending lags far behind consumer migration to online video. Why?
At a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau board meeting, two very well-respected agency executives were asked what the No. 1 barrier to growth was for online advertising. The answer was "measurement."
On my way home from the meeting I read Michael Zimbalist's call to "Measure the web as you would TV..." It's an excellent review of our current measurement predicament and unlike so many industry opinion pieces that simply bemoan the current status, Zimbalist, vice president of research and development operations for The New York Times, provides a blueprint. He even proposes a name: WRPs (like GRPs, get it?).
The only shortcoming in Zimbalist's blueprint was that when he proposed several standard units that could be measured as a WRP, he forgot to include pre-roll. Good news, though. In a follow-up conversation, he agreed that pre-roll would be an excellent addition. "Online video ads, whether pre-, mid- or post-roll, are natural candidates to be measured in WRPs," he said.
We fully support the idea of creating an industry recognized measurement unit such as the "WRP." We ask others to support this as well -- and we call on the IAB, the AAAA's, and the ANA to endorse the idea and formalize a process for pursuing this goal.
In fact, we did call the IAB to find out if they support this idea. Good news again, they do! "Of course the IAB supports this," says Randall Rothenberg, CEO and president. "In fact, our Measurement Standardization Initiative is IAB's highest priority this year, and will remain so until marketers, agencies, and media have a simpler, standardized set of ‘currencies' that allow brand advertising to be bought, sold, measured, and optimized online. The 4A's and ANA have agreed to help lead a task force with us to drive measurement simplification, so we think -- finally -- the cross-industry momentum exists to get this done."
How would it work? As Zimbalist proposes, the basis of calculation of a WRP would be the same as a GRP: reach and frequency, with an agreed-to definition of exposure or impression depending on the ad format. For example, in order for a pre-roll impression to qualify, the user would have to demonstrate some level of engagement with the ad (for example, a minimum of five seconds exposure).
TV buyers would find it much easier to buy WRPs than impressions since the metric more closely mirrors the way they buy TV using GRPs. Traditional planners could allocate money more easily across platforms knowing an industry-recognized standard was the unit of measurement.
Everyone in this industry talks about how the share of overall media consumption spent with online video doesn't match the advertiser spend. By creating an industry-recognized WRP unit of measurement, we will finally find out if the reason was artificial (lack of measurement) or has some other root cause.