COMB GPS-based Travel Research Steers Changes In Outdoor Ad Measurement

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

Following a two-year investigation into how the ever-growing mobility of Canadian consumers is impacting exposure to outdoor media, the Canadian Outdoor Measurement Bureau has released results of new research designed to increase the precision in measuring outdoor Gross Rating Points.

The research involved GPS travel studies conducted by Forum Research, Toronto, between Sept./11 and June/12 within the census-metropolitan-areas (CMA) of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and 100-kilometre surrounding areas.

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 Out-of-Home 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 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 city boundaries,” says Karen Best, COMB president. “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 nine days. This GPS-study approach is believed to be a first for outdoor advertising measurement in North America, and a precursor to growing use of technology by COMB in the creation of new measurement data and insight into OOH audiences.

The study data was analyzed, discussed and debated amongst research and media experts from six OOH companies and 10 leading advertising agencies that comprise 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 four days per week to be included in GRP calculations. Additional markets will be studied by COMB in 2013 and beyond.

Richard Ivey, senior vice-president customer service, Media Experts, and chair of the COMB Research Committee, says that the 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.

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