Online video is looking more like TV everyday, and that may be just what the business needs. The latest example? Nielsen struck an alliance this week with video ad network Tremor Media to include gross ratings points data in online video buys.
This deal has the potential to reshape the online video ad business, but it could also go down as a total dud. First, let’s look at the possibilities. GRPs are, of course, the currency of the TV ad business and they’re exactly what media buyers have said they want for online video as well. Media buyers want to be able to assess and evaluate online video campaigns using the same language they use for TV buys. They want to have a global look at reach and frequency across mediums. Sure, the brand lift or engagement that comes from a targeted online video buy can be wonderful, but marketers still often need the big footprint that comes from a TV campaign.
Under the deal, Tremor will incorporate Nielsen's Online Campaign Ratings gross ratings points in its VideoHub, a reporting and analytics tool that Tremor launched in the spring. The partnership will allow the two companies to tie the familiar GRP metrics to online video performance to give marketers a measurement of reach and frequency across the mediums, essentially a marriage of both worlds. Marketers can also tap into demographic information on their online video audiences and how online viewers are responding to their messaging. These factors are why this partnership can potentially give a boost to the already thriving online video ad business — just this week MagnaGlobal reported that online video grew nearly 59% in 2011, hitting $4.7 billion in revenues.
But the challenge may lie in scope. One-off partnerships with research companies don’t always re-imagine an entire industry. Nielsen has partnered with Xbox on measurement, and while Xbox is a tremendously successful product and ad vehicle, the partnership hasn’t turned Xbox into an extension of a TV buy. Similarly, Nielsen paired up with Google TV Ads in 2007 to marry Nielsen data to the Google TV ad platform, and Google TV Ads has not become a norm.
So what should Nielsen or Tremor do differently? Expand this alliance. Sure, Tremor might benefit at first from being the only video ad network to include Nielsen data. But in time, the industry will see more dollars flow into it if other ad networks also integrate Nielsen’s GRPs into their online video performance metrics.
Standards are what online video executives at agencies, vendors, publishers and researchers have said they crave for years. But to work, they have to, you know, be standard.