GRPs take a backseat to new metrics

Understanding the true impact of television advertising has always been challenging.  Traditional models have relied on targeting an advertiser’s audience based on the metric of gross rating point (GRP).  Whether you believe in the accuracy of today’s television audience measurement systems or not, new competitive TV research is looking beyond GRPs to improve advertising return on investment (ROI) and key performance indicators (KPIs).

The premise is straightforward, learn what has worked for other successful TV campaigns and apply those insights to your campaign.  However, the key to success is finding and studying the right advertisers.

Hundreds of advertisers such as Humana, Nutrisystem, Lifelock, Zip Recruiter, Quicken Loans, ASPCA, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, are providing consumers with a way to respond to their commercials via 1-800 numbers and web addresses.  These direct response advertisers measure the effectiveness of each television commercial, including which networks and dayparts are delivering the best ROI, by assigning a unique 1-800 number or URL/promotion code to each network/creative.  These campaigns focus on what works and quickly phase out networks, dayparts, and creatives that under perform.  “GRPs do not correlate to measured advertising ROI, which is why direct-response metrics are so valuable.  The television industry could learn a lot by studying direct response campaigns”, said Joseph Gray, CEO of DRMetrix.  Gray’s company has created Adsphere™, the first television research system of its kind that specializes in monitoring television campaigns that measure their advertising ROI using direct-response techniques.

Gray explains that AdSphere makes it easy to study these types of campaigns and discover which creative and media executions are working at the highest levels.  To make this possible, DRMetrix leveraged pattern and optical character-recognition technologies along with an innovation known as “automated content recognition” (ACR).  These technologies allow AdSphere to recognize TV campaigns that assign a unique 1-800 and/or URL/promotion code to each television network.

AdSphere has created a whole new world where advertisers and agencies can study competitive campaigns that are optimizing on the basis of measured ROI.  “Planning a television campaign on the basis of GRPs alone will hurt advertiser KPIs,” Gray said.  “But,when advertisers apply the actionable intelligence from AdSphere to the planning process, there’s a significant positive impact.

Marc Johnston from DirectAvenue echoed Gray’s statement, “While GRPs from one schedule to another maybe equal, measurable ROI can be a very different story.  AdSphere couples a premium data source with a slick, quick UI that we use to segment and study TV campaigns that manage creative and media placements on the basis of measured response and resulting ROI.”

“At Horizon Next, we are always in pursuit of ‘what’s next’ to elevate our data-driven approach to performance marketing as new tools and technologies become available,” said Gene Turner, EVP, Chief of Horizon Next, a division of Horizon Media. “AdSphere’s product enhances our existing toolkit and allows us to gain deeper insight into our client’s competitor’s television buys in real-time.”

David Figueroa from Catch 5 Direct added, “We’re big believers in research, so diving into the TV activity of similar advertisers is part of our MO. AdSphere is a great tool that allows us to dig even deeper to uncover potential opportunities for testing while providing great insight into messaging and offers in the marketplace.”

DRMetrix released its first, year-long Adsphere study of brand/direct and direct-response television spots.  For the 2016 year, AdSphere detected 7.92 million spot airings (valued at $6.4 billion*) which elicited consumer response across 92 national cable networks.  The study focused on short-form spots up to five minutes in duration.

In less than 3 years, Adsphere has amassed a database of over 7,000 brands that have tested and/or rolled out over 29,000 TV creatives.  In 2017, AdSphere expanded its network footprint to over 100 national cable networks.  AdSphere tracks all creative formats including short-form spots, five minute shows, and even 28.5-minute infomercials across an airing database that has grown to over 23 million airings as of October of 2017.  AdSphere’s 2016 study showed that the industry is three to four times larger than what leading television research companies have reported.  The reasons for this significant variance, and the study itself, are available by clicking here.

*Based on 2016 AdSphere Industry Study

Share on social media

Are new TV advertising technologies delivering efficiency for direct response campaigns?


We are witnessing the most significant disruption to television since the advent of cable. A number of MVPDs (Multi-channel Video Program Distributors) have launched new OTT (Over the top) services such as Hulu, Youtube, Sling TV, Directv Now, etc. As these new services compete for Millennial cord cutters, they are providing a new way for advertisers to target this sought after demographic. Given the fact that these services are new, and viewership is still building, DRMetrix wanted to know if direct response advertisers were having success advertising in these new mediums. So, we headed over to Survey Monkey and emailed out a survey to a few thousand direct response professionals this week.

Special thanks to the 117 respondents who completed our survey!

Here are the results:

Question 1:

Have you run a direct response campaign on any OTT delivery service such as Sling, Directv Now, Hulu, etc?

Answer: 40 respondents (34.2%) answered YES

Question 2:

The promise of OTT is that we can reach our target market more cost effectively. We should be able to support a premium cost-per-thousand viewers while increasing response rates and driving down the delivered cost-per-order or lead. In comparison to national cable buys, how would you rank the performance of OTT buys today on a scale from 1 (terrible) to 100 (terrific)?

Answer: 38 respondents (32.5%) provided a below average performance score of “47” for OTT buys.

Question 3:

Have you tried an advanced cable advertising campaign targeting individual cable households?

Answer: 34 respondents (29%) answered YES

Question 4:

The promise of Advanced Cable Advertising is that we can reach our target market more cost effectively. We should be able to support a premium cost-per-thousand viewers while increasing response rates and driving down the delivered cost-per-order or lead. In comparison to national cable buys, how would you rank the performance of Advanced Cable Advertising buys today On a scale from 1 (terrible) to 100 (terrific)?

Answer: 33 respondents (28.2%) provided an above average performance score of “60” for advanced cable advertising buys.

Question 5:

Today, many U.S. households have connected video streaming devices such as smart televisions. It is possible to fingerprint a TV commercial and detect when unique consumer households are exposed to the advertisement. The household IP address can then be used to target members of that household via digital ad campaigns on their 2nd screen devices. The premise is that a distracted TV consumer using a 2nd screen device while watching TV may be more inclined to respond if they see the ad across all of their devices rather than limited to their television screen. Playing devils advocate, if one gets off the couch and takes a bio break, or goes to the kitchen during a commercial break, then advertisers would be paying a premium to reach such consumers with perhaps little upside.Have you executed any 2nd screen targeting campaigns synced to live TV ads?

Answer: 24 respondents (20.5%) answered YES

Question 6:

How have your TV to 2nd screen retargeting campaigns worked on a scale from 1 (terrible) to 100 (terrific)?

Answer: 24 respondents (20.5%) provided an above average performance score of “54” for 2nd Screen Targeting campaigns.

Summary Findings:

Advanced cable advertising indexed above average and significantly higher than OTT. The responses on 2nd screen targeting were less conclusive given the small number of respondents.   DRMetrix looks forward to conducting this survey into the future as adoption rates increase.

On a related topic, DRMetrix has been researching ways to monitor OTT streams to help educate the marketplace.  Unfortunately, given where the marketplace is at currently, there is no comprehensive way to do so.  New emerging ACR (automated content recognition) technology is now running on streaming devices such as smart televisions. Millions of smart television owners, have opted into an arrangement where their smart TV is able to listen and report the ads that are running on their television. This data is certainly helpful to advertisers. This capability could also provide a way to track OTT airings across a large number of consumer households if it weren’t for the fact that the vast majority of OTT providers will not allow it.  They are contractually requiring that smart TV manufacturers to turn off ACR detection while consumers are running their smart TV applications.  As a result, smart television data providers are extremely limited in their ability to monitor OTT streams.  One noteable exception is when smart TV customers hook up third party devices such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon TV, etc.  The smart television ACR can detect ads that are running but now the problem is determining the source of the ACR detection should it be from an OTT provider.  We are not aware of any existing solutions to this particular problem.  Stay tuned as this situation may change into the future.  If so, DRMetrix will report when and if there is a breakthrough in this area!

Share on social media

New Build of AdSphere Released!

We are pleased to announce some new exciting features that are coming to AdSphere today.

With more than 27,000 creatives, 6,800 brands, and 3,800 advertisers in the AdSphere database, finding what you’re looking is now easier than ever.

Introducing AdSphere’s new Global Search & Advertiser Pages!

Please click here for a short video walk through of these powerful new features.

We have even more exciting new features planned to debut at the upcoming ERA – D2C Convention in Las Vegas.  DRMetrix will be exhibiting October 4-5 at booth #309.  To schedule an appointment to visit with a member of our team at the show, please click here.  Please bring a colleague or two with you!

Share on social media

AdSphere Reports Impressive Growth for DRTV Industry

DRTV – The Sleeping Giant

DRMetrix, the industry’s leading television research company, has released a surprise study that reveals the size of direct response television (DRTV) industry to be many times larger than previously thought.

DRMetrix is the brainchild of Joseph Gray, a 30-year veteran of the direct response television industry who has long thought that the size of the direct response television industry has been under-estimated by mainstream television research companies.  The ability to measure the size of the industry alluded him as research companies were unwilling to segment ‘direct response’ from traditional branded commercials.

“Back in 2003, a group of DRTV professionals joined together with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) to form the DMA Broadcast Council”, Gray recalls.  “I was invited to co-chair the Research Committee.  We worked on a whitepaper to document solutions that would enable the DRTV industry to quantify itself with credible research.  We were hoping to convince the television research companies to start flagging commercials that included 1-800 numbers and web addresses but they were unwilling to do so.”

Nearly a decade later, Gray mustered the resources and started DRMetrix to tackle the problem.  Prior to the beginning of the 2015 broadcast year, the company deployed its AdSphere™ monitoring platform which today monitors over 100 national cable networks 24/7/365.  AdSphere™ was designed using the latest “automated content recognition” (ACR) technology along with advanced pattern and optical character recognition technologies to sniff out any television ad or program that includes direct response attributes such as 800 numbers, web addresses, SMS, etc.  Millions of dollars in investment and four years later, the moment of truth has finally arrived.

AdSphere projections for the 2016 broadcast year are the result of monitoring 92 national cable networks.  AdSphere identified over 3,500 DR brands which have included some combination of 800, Web, Mobile App Response and/or SMS allowing consumers to directly respond.  In addition to detecting over 89,000 infomercial (28.5 minute) airings, AdSphere detected an astonishing 7.92 million spots with an average run time of 39.65 seconds up to a maximum of 5 minutes in duration.  This averages out to 6.49 minutes of DR spots running across the networks every hour, every day, 365 days a year.  AdSphere has calculated the valuation of this inventory at $6.4 billion dollars applying ‘average DR industry rates’ and weighting the value of DR spots running across two different types of national cable ad breaks.

Gray projects that AdSphere™ estimates for network cable direct response valuation are 3-4 times greater than what leading television research companies have reported based on differing philosophies of what constitutes ‘direct response’ vs. ‘brand’ the lines of which have blurred over the years.  DRMetrix presents the following facts for the industry to consider:


2016 short form media valuation by DR classification
(across 92 national cable networks)

Short Form Product (call to order) $315,559,760.19
Lead Generation (unique 800 or web/promo code tracking) $1,214,017,066.86
Brand/DR (Using vanity 800 numbers)  $2,093,214,168.94
Brand/DR (straight web, SMS, and/or mobile app response) $2,813,172,645.74
Total *$6,435,963,641.73

*This number does not include broadcast, satellite, local cable DR expenditures or 28.5 infomercial valuations.

DRMetrix is excited to release these results to the industry so that everyone can understand how much the DRTV industry has grown.

The inaugural 2017 AdSphere Awards will recognize the accomplishments of the top direct response television advertisers and brands for the 2016 broadcast year.

Award recipients will be chosen across several industry classifications representing all facets of the industry.  AdSphere also segments DRTV campaigns across 20 major categories and 145 sub-categories. The complete list of  AdSphere Award winners for 2017 is online at

The awards presentation will take place at Response EXPO 2017, the DRTV industry’s yearly trade show, April 25-27, 2017 in San Diego, California

In order to scale a DRTV campaign, an advertiser’s creative and media execution needs to be optimized at the highest level.  Further, the campaign has to resonate with consumers in order to deliver an ROI to the advertiser sufficient to scale the size of the overall campaign.  Accordingly, the brands and advertisers will the highest overall projected schedule valuations have exemplified the art and science of DRTV advertising.  In creating the AdSphere Awards, DRMetrix is proud to bring the most inclusive awards program ever to the DRTV industry honoring advertisers across four industry classifications including short form products, lead generation, brand/DR, and long form.

To learn more about DRTV industry trends, please be sure to subscribe to the DRMetrix blog located at


Share on social media