Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Goes After TV Dollars by Pretending It’s TV

Google sells a lot of advertising — about $38 billion a year. But the TV guys sell even more — more than $190 billion a year.

Hence Google’s new pitch to advertisers: Think of us like TV! Buy us like TV!

Which means Google is going to start using an old-media metric called gross rating points, or GRPs, to sell display ads and video ads.

If you’re not an ad buyer or seller, you don’t need to worry about the details. The two big ideas:

  • GRPs are supposed to measure the size of the audience that sees a marketing campaign. Compared to the detailed, click-by-click reporting that digital media provides, they’re very crude.
  • GRPs are still the preferred currency for most ad buyers and sellers, who find them simple and effective.

Which is why Google isn’t the only big Web ad player putting its weight behind GRPs. Facebook has been pushing the metric for some time, as has ComScore, the Web measurement service. All three companies are trying to move the big dollars that brand marketers spend on TV over to the Web, which is still primarily used by search advertisers.

That’s probably at least two companies too many. The whole idea of the GRP push is to simplify Web ad buying, and if there are three competing versions of the same metric, that’s not going to make it any easier. But whoever wins should win big, so the fighting will be fierce for a while.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Dean Bertoncelj)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik