Thursday, October 18, 2012

COMB GPS-based travel research steers decision to modernize the outdoor advertising ‘GRP’

Following a two-year investigation into how the ever-growing mobility of Canadian consumers is impacting exposure to outdoor media, COMB releases today the results of new empirical research designed to increase the precision in measuring outdoor GRPs.

The research involved GPS travel studies conducted by Forum Research between September 2011 and June 2012 within the census-metropolitan-areas (CMA) of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and surrounding radii of 100-kilometres. The studies’ key objective was to understand how both residents and non-residents travel within Canada’s three largest urban cities and specifically, to determine whether the OOH industry should continue to exclude non-residents’ exposure to outdoor advertising when calculating outdoor GRPs. This exclusion is a practice that was established decades ago when the Canadian outdoor advertising industry began to calculate and report campaign delivery based on the GRP (gross rating point) metric.

“GPS technology has been able to demonstrate that non-residents of Canada’s major cities have heavy exposure-opportunity to the cities’ outdoor advertising due to their frequent travel within the city boundaries”, says Karen Best, President of COMB, “OOH is an out-of-residence medium making both residents and non-residents legitimate and valuable potential customers that together make up the real audience to be measured in a modern, media metric.”

Passive and accurate, GPS technology captures movement every two seconds and was therefore selected as the tracking device to be carried by 600 study participants for a period of 9 days. Some participants were tracked for 28 days.

The outcome

1. People living outside of the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver CMA boundaries travelled into the major markets an average of 4 days per week, driving more weekly kilometres within the CMAs than residents of those cities.

2. 92% of non-residents traveled into Toronto and Montreal 4 days or more per week. The comparable figure for Vancouver was 91%.

3. Non residents’ exposure to outdoor advertising was higher in the three major cities than residents’ exposure.

The study data was analysed, discussed and debated amongst research and media experts from six OOH companies and ten leading advertising agencies that comprise COMB’s industry watchdog - the COMB Research Committee - and COMB’s Board of Directors.

There was unanimous approval to allow non-residents who travel into Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver CMAs a minimum of 4 days per week to be included in GRP calculations. . Additional markets will be studied by COMB in 2013 and beyond.

Michele Erskine, Director of Marketing at CBS Outdoor and a long-term member of both COMB’s Research Committee and a COMB Board Director, reinforces that “the new research methodology for determining ‘percentage of non-residents eligible to contribute to outdoor GRP calculations (known as the in-market factor)’ is derived from current and reliable COMB research that advertisers and their agencies can trust. This research is vital to accurate reporting of campaign reach, impressions, and GRPs reported in COMB’s media planning tool, COMBNavigator®.”

The new data has been updated to COMB software effective today. The impact and implications of the changes to the Buyer community will be addressed in COMB communications to its members.

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