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Digital media planners: enough with the stats, speak English


For years, above the line media has used Gross Rating Points (GRPs) as a benchmark. This is how agencies and their clients can attribute value to campaigns to ensure that media budgets are allocated and spent cost-effectively. This is all well and good for traditional advertising, but when it comes to digital media, measuring effectiveness has not been possible.

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With digital media, campaign plans are measured by estimated impressions, estimated clicks, estimated frequency, estimated click-through rates, estimated cost per views, estimated interactions, estimated dwell time and the like.

You get the picture? The strange thing is, the very measurements that are devised to create greater transparency between planner and client seem to do just the opposite. Many of the measurements are direct marketing related, for example: how many letters did we post and how many application forms did we received back?

Think sales funnels and conversion optimisation; all of the measures alienate brand marketers who want to know how many of the right kind of people received the message and how many times they saw it! How’s that for a great place to start?

During and post campaign we start to measure by signups, leads, likes, sales, downloads, calls, increase in visits, page views and time on site and this is all dependent on the medium, country, type of creative as well as the different metrics used as benchmarks.

And herein lies the start of the problem because the number of benchmarks are countless and this leads to confusion when trying to measure one against another. If we deconstruct it, digital is most certainly the most measurable medium but the myriad metrics can often obscure and obfuscate.

By applying this to a digital campaign we would start by evaluating the potential effectiveness of a campaign. So we borrow from our big brothers and apply a GRP model to a digital plan. This way we can see the effectiveness of a campaign in terms of GRP’s and we can now start comparing apples with apples.

For the digital media folk out there GRP = % of target audience x frequency x 100


  • We can now compare different media plans to the same measurement scale.
  • We can be cost effective as the GRP model is effectively a resource allocation algorithm thus allocating costs effectively.
  • We can thus make a media planner’s allocation easier.


  • The downfall of this measurement is that it doesn’t apply to all mediums – think social & searched based media, PR & advertorial, networks.
  • It doesn’t account for specific unit position or size – all ad sizes irrespective of position are treated the same.
  • It doesn’t take into consideration cross-user penetration, for example, a reader on a regular news site versus one on a political commentary site.

In terms of creating a benchmark for digital media campaigns, a GRP based model seems like one of the ways forward for digital media planners to allocate their budgets more effectively.

The measurement technique is not perfect but certainly a huge step in the right direction for awareness based digital media planning. It’s time to speak real English, people! (or people, it’s time we all spoke the same language).

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