To my mind, this is a very clever move. Total Rating Points measure the percentage of a target audience reached. Unlike "like" and "shares," which show what happened to content after it was consumed, TRPs are the stuff of tv buying and let marketers know the proportion of, say, middle-income fathers educated to degree level or high-flying single women with large disposable income. Whatever the demographic-based audience being sought, TRPs are a measure of successful exposure among a key audience for a brand's latest campaign.
The beauty of Facebook is, as we all know, that it's immensely rich data sets -- unlike tv buyers and planners who have to make educated guesses about who is watching a particular show and whether there is sufficient numbers of their target audience to warrant a buy -- a mid-afternoon show about shopping with coupons is obviously going to have a very different audience to a hard-hitting late evening current affairs show, for example.
However, Facebook has the potential to add a lot more certainty to this. Chatting to some WPP execs just a few months ago, they were amazed at the granularity of Facebook's data that know what its users have shown an interest in as well as all the usual demographic data they add to their profile listing -- such as age, relationship status, children, location and job. The problem has always been, in the past, that social media, as a digital channel, often felt like comparing apples with oranges. Success was measured in different ways to traditional channels.
That's what makes Facebook's partnership with Nielsen so interesting, allowing the very familiar TRP metric to be rolled across from television. If this doesn't appeal to media agencies I will be very surprised because it has two massive plus points going for it.
First you have a traditional metric which should make the tv guys feel at home and secondly, you've got that conventional metric in one place, Facebook. The issue with TRPs, as with any metric, is you have a rough figure for an audience reached without much of an idea if reaching that audience meant much to them. You don't really have an idea whether your high-flying successful career women took too much notice of your designer fashion campaign because there's no immediate response mechanism on tv, and you don't know whether they were paying attention of if that particular channel resonates with them. You simply know they are estimated to have been watching while your campaign was running.
With Facebook, you absolutely know they were on the page when the ad was played and you can pretty much know for sure that if they have been checking in daily for the past five years, then Facebook is a channel that carries a lot of weight. Then, there are likes and shares to throw in to the mix too for a good idea of how well the advert has gone down.
So, if you look beyond yet another three letter acronym, this is very big news that will help Facebook get a slice of tv ad money.
Twitter has for a long time been positioning itself as the second screen destination tv buyers should add to a campaign, offering text and hashtags for viewers to get further involved in a show, perhaps an advert too or a conversation being started off by a show's sponsor.
Facebook's play is different. It wants to be an extension of the actual campaign -- not the chat around it or the shows where it might be running, although that is probably inevitable given that it is a social media channel.
Facebook wants to be where the ad dollars are, not just where the conversations are kicking off.