COMB to include non-residents in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver GRPs

Following two-and-a-half years of research, the Canadian Out-of-home Measurement Bureau (COMB) is now including non-residents in GRP calculations for the country’s three largest markets: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. This reverses a longstanding policy by the out-of-home industry to exclude non-residents from the GRP formula. COMB president Karen Best said the move reflects changing consumer habits […]

Following two-and-a-half years of research, the Canadian Out-of-home Measurement Bureau (COMB) is now including non-residents in GRP calculations for the country’s three largest markets: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

This reverses a longstanding policy by the out-of-home industry to exclude non-residents from the GRP formula.

COMB president Karen Best said the move reflects changing consumer habits in which non-residents’ exposure potential to out-of-home advertising is considerably higher than residents because of their frequent travel within city boundaries.

COMB received unanimous approval from the six out-of-home companies and 10 media buying agencies that comprise its research committee and its board of directors to update its media planning tool, COMBNavigator, accordingly.

The decision follows extensive GPS travel studies conducted for the organization by Forum Research in the Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver CMAs – as well as a 100-kilometre surrounding area – between September 2011 and June 2012. The research saw 600 participants wear a tracking device that passively records data every two seconds for a period of nine days.

COMB says that the research is a first for out-of-home advertising measurement in North America, and heralds “growing use” of technology by the organization to refine and create new measurement data and audience insights.

The key objective was to understand how both residents and non-residents of the country’s three largest metropolitan areas travel, and to determine if the industry should continue to exclude non-residents’ exposure to out-of-home ads when calculating GRPs.

Out-of-home GRPs have traditionally been determined by traffic counts conducted by transport engineering firms and other factors like distance visibility, but the use of GPS technology enabled COMB to paint a more accurate picture of just who is seeing out-of-home advertising, said Best.

“The thing with the old methodology is it was just giving us a point in time,” said Best. “It didn’t tell us anything about where the person was coming from or where they were going to. Now we have the ability to get a much deeper and more accurate look.”

The organization plans to study additional markets in 2013, said Best.

The research found that the amount of kilometres driven in the three major markets by non-residents was significantly higher than that of locals. In the Toronto CMA, for example, non-residents from outlying areas like Guelph, Cambridge and Burlington drove an average of 73 kilometres per week within city boundaries, compared with 46 kilometres for residents.

In Montreal, CMA residents drove an average of 57 kilometres per week compared with 62 kilometres for non-residents. In Vancouver, non-residents travelled an average of 62 kilometres in a typical week, compared with 39 kilometres for residents.

Richard Ivey, senior vice-president of customer service at Media Experts and chair of the COMB Research Committee, said in a release that the new research methodology is “vital” to accurate reporting of campaign reach, impressions and GRPs reported in the COMBNavigator tool.

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