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An empty checklist—a GRP is an older metric that can't always determine who's watching an ad, or if your ideal customers are being crossed off your reach list.

What Is a GRP? And Are They Effective?

December 8th, 2016   ||    by Charlene Weisler

What is a GRP? A GRP, or Gross Rating Point, is an entrenched sales metric used to measure the deliverability of an advertiser’s contract. According to the CIMM Lexicon, GRP is “calculated by totaling all the ratings for all the shows or ads bought in an advertiser’s contract reported as a gross number. Originally a television term, now it has adopted it for internet video as well, leading to a cross platform measurement tool for advertisers who buy both television and online video. The formula is Reach X Average Frequency equals Total GRPs.” As long as the GRP delivery matches what has been agreed to in a sales contract, the contract is met its goal and the audience delivered as promised.

Age and Gender

There are challenges in relying solely on delivery of GRPs to reach the right consumers, however. Because GRPs are based on age and gender, they can indicate ads have reached consumers who fit the age and gender specifics of the campaign without actually reaching potential consumers of the product or service, leading to a certain amount of waste.

As Ashish Thusoo, CEO and founder of Qubole, explained, “The challenge today is that media companies aren’t able to know 100% for certain who is watching something. A middle-aged father, for example, may watch the first half of a football game in the living room, but then leave to make dinner and his young son watches the second half without him. And yet, the same commercials will play during the son and father’s separate viewing experiences, although they aren’t relevant to both of them.”

Attention to Ads

And while the message has been delivered, there’s no guarantee it’s been viewed. In the old days, viewers could leave the room when an ad came on (and they still can). Nowadays, attention has been greatly fragmented by multitasking across devices. According to Digiday, “GRP is a branding metric. It’s reasonable to believe that if someone watched an ad for a product enough times that they might go out and buy that product, but it’s hard to connect the two directly—and, yes, a GRP won’t tell you how many people were in the bathroom or switched channels during commercial breaks.”

Small Samples

There’s also the issue of ratings bounce for smaller networks and content providers whose sample sizes within the greater Nielsen sample may be very small, hazarding large margins of error. GRPs are measured by Nielsen, which for over 60 years has been the gatekeeper of the ratings currency.

Nielsen bases performance on a sample of 26,000 metered homes, diary markets, and LPMs, taken out of a projected total of over 115 million U.S. households with televisions. For a smaller-size network with a national distribution of 50 percent of all TV households, the number of meters represented in its footprint may total in the single digits; if the family in a home is out to dinner or on vacation, this could lower the nightly sample for a particular network even further.

What Is a GRP Solution?

Programmatic buying and selling through the use of segmentation can help overcome the challenges of waste, attention, and sample size. By utilizing more psychographic, as well as quantitative, measurements of brand affinity, purchasing behavior, and buying triggers, advertisers can be more confident that their messages are truly reaching the right consumers at the right times through the right programming conduits. Relevant, targeted messaging encourages consumer attention and engagement.

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