Defining the common currency for video advertising: the work has just begun

20 Apr 2016  |  Caroline Hugonenc 
Defining the common currency for video advertising: the work has just begun

What will it take for the ad industry to settle upon a common measurement language, asks Tead's Caroline Hugonenc

Bridging the gap between TV and digital is always a hot topic, most recently when Moat announced they had received $50 million in funding to develop a standard digital ad currency. With increasingly sophisticated targeting and distribution techniques, marketers looking for a commonality between the two are struggling to find their feet.

Whilst the TV industry, for the most part, has been measured by one well-established measurement entity for decades, digital video advertising requires a myriad of measurement tools that help ensure advertisers reach an audience of value.

This is becoming a real challenge; according to a research study commissioned by Teads and conducted by Forrester, for agencies and clients, the main factor that holds back growth in video advertising is the lack of verification that ads are delivered to their intended audience. In addition the perceivable lack of established standards for measurement and viewability proved to be a concern.

Crucially, this has made it difficult for publishers to monetise across multiple screens, advertisers to develop fully-integrated video campaigns and, essentially, industry professionals to settle upon a common measurement language.

Naturally, the GRP (Gross Rating Point) being the original unit of TV monetisation, may provide the answer to finding a single currency and accelerate the rate at which video advertising dollars shift from TV to digital platforms.

The GRP: a magic formula?

Digital GRP measurement has been available for a few years, since comScore and Nielsen launched their campaign verification tools; DAR (ex OCR) and vCE. By using a combined percentage of the campaign impressions on target, frequency of exposure and the size of the demographic universe, digital campaigns can be successfully measured to GRPs.

Uniting reporting with TV is also available with Nielsen TAR or XCR. However TV buyers complain that digital GRPs cannot be added up to TV GRPs, as they are based simply on the definition of an opportunity to see (an impression) that is not comparable to TV. Given that around half of digital video ads across the globe are unseen and 10% are delivered to robots, this sounds like an admissible objection.

From a digital GRP to a video GRP

In order to be compatible to TV standards, 3MS and MRC are working towards introducing an online GRP metric, providing reach and frequency reporting for viewable impressions.

Some digital companies believe that the digital GRP needs to evolve towards a video GRP, but also has to be cleansed of non-human traffic. A viewable and human GRP initiative (as per the MRC's definition) could help solve the problems surrounding audience quality, which have plagued digital ad campaigns for years.

Currently, France is the first market in the world that has agreed upon a definition for a video GRP. Not only is share of time played accounted for, but also additional metrics such as visible surface area are clarified. For example, a 30 second video ad viewed for only 15 seconds at 50% visibility will be factored at 25% (50% played x 50% visible area).

Due to the efforts of legacy TV media companies, this definition is much more restrictive than traditional approaches to establishing a digital GRP. You will have noticed that sound is significantly louder during TV ads. This is because a large percentage of people do not actually watch. They do something else (like playing with their smartphones) and thus do not see the screen at all. As a result, the video GRP will reduce the usage of impressions as a buying model and increase costs, thus providing an inherent advantage to TV companies.

Consequently, pure-play digital firms such as Google and Facebook have refused to participate in the French initiative.

For global brands investing in digital, having a definition of the GRP that differs depending on the country or the media sellers will add to the complexity of buying and perhaps deter them from investing in digital video. Unlike TV, digital is global by nature, and requires global governance on a standardised model.

Even a video GRP would be limited

It's important to bear in mind that even a universal video GRP will not be the magic metric that will resolve all concerns around digital valuation. Most of a digital campaigns' strength extends beyond audience reach and exposure. Digital drives interactions, engagements, and social sharing in a way linear TV can't; these elements are not adequately expressed through a linear GRP.

Another issue the GRP can't resolve single-handedly is differentiating between exposure that's forced and not forced. Giving control to the user makes a big difference in terms of ad effectiveness as we have recently learn though the influx of the ad blocking phenomenon.

While we as an industry should be calling for a universal GRP for video, we should focus on transparency. If digital has no unified measurement standard then we must strive to the best possible standards - viewability and no bots - to ensure there is continued trust in digital. This is only the beginning of the journey to establish a single cross-screen media currency - the work has just begun.

Caroline Hugonenc is vice president of research at native video advertising company Teads


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