Chiradeep Gupta

Last week while going through some of my mp3 collection I chanced upon an old song. Strangely the references in the song are fairly relevant today. Curious to find the origins I looked it up on Wikipedia.

On 7th September 1979 a British group called ‘The Buggles’ released their debut single – ‘Video killed the radio star’ heralding the dawn of a new era in entertainment. The song celebrated the ‘golden days’ of radio and radio artists and the imminent demise of the radio performer.

The song went on to top the music charts in several countries and over the years has been covered by many artists.

It was also the first music video shown on MTV in the U.S. at 12:01 AM on 1st August 1981.

Entire industries grew and thrived on ‘video’ for the next few decades. Research industries set up television monitoring panels and thus evolved the concept of a GRP – A measure that helped advertisers quantify the exposure of their advertising.

The GRP became a reference point. It became synonymous with TV. Given the fact that 95% [more in some cases] of spends were on TV, the ‘GRP’ gained even more significance. The current breed of Marketers and Brand Managers grew up in this era – the era of the GRP. The obsession is evident at all marketing meetings, where hours are spent on slicing and dicing the impact of higher or lower GRPs. Even non 30 second brand exposures on TV [like a brand logo in a program, product placement or even the mention of a brand name] was evaluated in terms of GRPs. This obsession slowly spread into other media. One would get into meetings where brand managers would ask – “ So how much incremental GRPs did this display advertising deliver?”

The GRP provided a level of comfort and a measure of exposure to help evaluate the size of advertising. [I Am not going to get into the details of the flaws on how GRPs are captured as that would be a separate discussion altogether].

But things have changed ever since. Digital Platforms and technology are fast becoming an integral part of the consumers’ lives. Video content is still consumed but the platforms and devices have changed.

The reality today is that digital platforms are interactive and therefore enable responses and actions which are real-time. So the metric evaluating the medium has to capture not only exposure but interactions. Does the GRP [in its current state] allow that? Is it misplaced obsession with an irrelevant measure [in its current state] that has created inertia to move our investments behind new platforms and formats? Is it the same obsession that has created the ‘confidence gap’ [the gap between ad spend and time spent splits]?

If we start looking at formats and not devices, We should be able to ensure far more ROI driven advertising.

TV is a device – the format is Video. The reality is that today with Smart TV, Smart Phones and Smart display opportunities, Video 2.0 offers a far richer and interactive experience vs. just exposure. Imagine a metric which measures exposure and action – e.g. like, share, forward, comment, click to download/order/buy. We have to move away from the TV and GRP mindset to video and a metric which marries exposure and response – call it what you will. [I have deliberately mentioned “in its current state” in previous references to the GRP as the new metric can still be called GRP so as not to change too many terms, Too many changes take a longer time to be adopted and in this age we really don’t have the luxury of time]

We then can probably see the slow demise of TV advertising [in its current form] and a far more evolved ‘video’ advertising. The 30 second spot is not going to die – instead we will see far better targeted, contextually relevant and interactive advertising – it can still be 30 seconds.

The quicker we look on technology as an enabler and adopt and utilise it to help create and deliver value the faster we will have ensured that our advertising monies go the distance. All it requires is a willingness to realise, change, challenge and evolve.