For TV, GRPs Are Out, And Impressions Are In

On TV & Video is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in the field of advanced television and video.

Today’s column is from Brie Pinnow, Co-Founder and Principal Advisor at Blinc. After this exclusive first look for subscribers, the story will be published in full on Morning.

Gross Rating Points were once the base currency for billions in TV ad spend. Today, that metric is a data dinosaur that just doesn’t cut it in our multiscreen, multiservice world.

But if the GRP disappears, how will this billion-dollar industry trade? The answer is simple: impressions.

As viewer behavior has evolved, both buyers and sellers of television have been increasingly forced to engage with digital inventory (CTV). Impressions are the standard metric in the CTV environment, meaning there has been a surge of support and comfort around this currency. And this trend will only continue. According to IABconnected TV ad spend is expected to reach $21.1 billion this year, up 39% year over year.

Vendors are also on board. Hearst Television proudly touts that they have transitioned to selling on an impression basis in 2021, believing that “impressions provide a more accurate representation of reach. Consumers can choose from multiple platforms, fragment audiences, and create many universes to analyze. This ensures that all viewers are counted across all screens.”

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In short, with the GRP on shaky ground, Impressions are ready to claim the throne. Here’s why:

1. The data is available

If there are millions of individual and household viewer data points thanks to ACR and STB data sources, why rely on small panels and tens of thousands of metered TVs for estimates?

While the scope and accuracy could be improved, the household-level ad impression data collected today far outweighs and simplifies the outdated panel-based GRP measurement methods.

2. Impressions enable true cross-screen strategies

The nirvana of advertising is effectively reaching your ideal audience, wherever they are. By relying on impressions, you shift the value of media to reaching certain eyeballs rather than how, what, or when they see.

With impressions, linear and streaming are no longer silos. Instead, they’re part of a larger video strategy that allows buyers to turn the media mix up or down.

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3. TV and digital teams can speak the same language

Many agencies and brand teams are still experiencing an internal tug of war. Which team is responsible for the steadily growing streaming budget – the TV or the digital team? By creating TV plans around impressions, it not only opens the door to better analysis of the consumer journey, but invites each team – digital or TV – to drive the strategy while communicating effectively with their counterpart.

4. Impressions enable smooth in-flight delivery to reach key audiences

What is fluidity? Essentially, it moves Dollar seamlessly between different types of inventory – be it linear, CTV, OTT, or even specific programming – to target a specific audience. Not only is this an obvious benefit for advertisers, but also a huge win for the sell-side.

The pain of underdelivery is a common complaint among TV buyers – some see underdelivery rates as high as 20%. And the sellers suffer too.

The make-good process after the under-delivery is additional work for both parties that could be better put into the future. I spoke to one buyer who suggested overbuying the media by 20% and agreeing to cashback instead of make-goods to avoid frustration. Put simply, nobody wants to underdeliver.

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By focusing on impressions, funds can be reallocated to ensure delivery goals are met throughout the campaign.

5. Brands can measure key metrics

Purchasing based on impressions does not currently guarantee that the impressions will be identifiable for attribution. But this dream is slowly becoming a reality.

Today, measurement companies help advertisers tie their spend (and ultimately impressions) to important outcomes like website visits, online purchases, door openings, and app downloads.

The continuous impression thread between TV and digital is necessary to fully understand a customer’s journey.

The industry goes the way together

The shift from ratings to impressions comes as no surprise to those who have long pushed for television to play more seamlessly with other channels.

What is surprising is that change is happening on so many levels and from all sides at the same time. The GRP is peacefully laid to rest, and impressions usher in a new era of more powerful planning, alignment, and measurement.

Follow Brie Pinnow (@BriennaP) and AdExchanger (@Adexchanger) on twitter.

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