Monday, May 16, 2011

Digital Video Upfronts and the Elusive GRP

So this years upfront result news should include a lot about budgets being shifted to a digital platform through online video as a part of the news.  From speaking to people around the industry who run accounts it seems that people are shifting a noticable portion of video impressions from a television vehicle to display based vehicle through the wild wooly internets (intentional misspelling folks). 

Now being a 21st century digital boy I of course applaud this idea but I do have some pretty big concerns.   Why you ask?  Well an online impression is NO way like a television impression.  In fact its ability to obtain and achieve attention in a way that is sticky and something that the consumer remembers is what I am calling into question.   

Allow me to explain.   Lets start by understanding the GRP which is the common currency for television video markets.   A GRP is quite simple %reach X frequency.  So this should be attainable in digital video right?  WRONG.   Lets use as an example television buying the UK vs the US and how it is planned differently.   In the US we generally apply a 3+ or 4+ frequency when we are doing our planning in media.   However in the UK the general frequency used in planning is a 1+ frequency.  The agencies/brands have sets of tools based on syndicate research that inform them this is the optimal level in order to achieve their brands goals against the audience.    

The question to ask in order to uncover the whole issue is what makes the frequencies different per market?   Quite simply the answer is clutter and universe avails.  In other words less ads in the UK available as the total # of avails.  

So how does that inform me about the issues in digital?   Well the total # of avails are for starters unknown as they are constraint to the consumer pathway.  In addition the fact that the publishers themselves are unclear on the distribution of avails due to the fact that the publishers are shipping out a ton to remnant supply channels.  

Quite simply no constraint universe no ability to control clutter.  How could you prove this?  Look at the adstock decay of a given TV impression for a digital impression.   I havent done the study myself but I would be curious to see the results.  Has anyone done this?  I can not find any results of a study yet there are dollars flowing left and right.

These facts by themselves are deal breakers on an impression to impression level or even allowing GRP to be the currency here.    I am not even touching on the fact that the "experience" of the video on television is most likely a far more receptive platform for brand influence than on the web.   This will change over time as tv will become more functional (active engagement) and tablets/computers will become more entertainment oriented (passive engagement).  But for now this media nerd thinks impression swapping on tv and digital with the expectation that it is a 1to1 swap is the wrong approach for any marketers. 

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