End of the GRP and 'Oxymoron' of Targeted Reach

I was at the Streaming Media East show the week before last and a bunch of executives on a panel ("New Advertising Platforms and Networks") were talking about video measurement and what kinds of measurement is possible. They kept using common industry jargon until someone in the audience frustratedly blurted out, “What’s a GRP?!” After a little befuddled fumbling on stage, and a quiet gnashing of teeth in the audience (“how can this guy not KNOW?!” I could hear some people thinking) one panelist kindly explained that GRP is a gross rating point, a way of trying to figure out what proportion of the people in my target audience -- say men 18-34 -- have seen my message, my ad, how many times. Have 50 percent of men 18-34 seen my underarm deodorant ad five times each? Then that’s 50 x 5, or 250 gross ratings points. Gross is really the right word because it’s a very loose estimate and attempt to apply mathematics to something that’s not really all that mathematical or well-measured.

Mainly, though, I was reminded that:

  1. We all have our jargon and in this converged and disrupted mediaverse we have to remember that a lot of people making a lot of decisions aren’t necessarily fluent in the currencies that other people they’re dealing with have and
  2. we may be seeing the end of the GRP. I recently worked on a research report for JackMyers Media Business report about measurement in the advertising and media space and found that media buyers -- meaning the folks who take the money from companies and figure out how to spend it on ads -- were talking a lot about measurement and reaching their audiences and so on, but they weren’t talking a lot about GRPs or even necessarily TRPs -- a more refined version for more closely targeting an audience. I think we might be inching toward the end or at least gross diminishment of a measure that’s been a primary currency in the advertising business for decades.... and we’re going to increasingly see people looking to hit their targets in a very targeted way.

One of the people who makes me think this way is Dave Morgan, who told me that the “behavioral targeting” technology he helped bring into the world helped achieve the “oxymoron of targeted reach” -- a huge swath of people (reach, like an advertiser gets with, say, the Super Bowl), but in a targeted way (like an advertiser gets when they know exactly who you are because you’ve registered for soemthing and send you an ad based on your preferences). He’ll be a guest on Naked Media on Wednesday at noon, ET, then On Demand later. You can watch the first interview, with Jay Rosen, here.

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