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What is a Gross Rating Point?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Gross rating point (GRP) is a statistic used to express the number of people reached by an advertising campaign in a given medium or over a given period of time. It is one among many statistics that advertisers use to explore how well their campaigns are working. Additionally, gross rating point is used to make decisions about how, where, and when to advertise in order to reach the most people.

Two things are involved in a gross rating point. The first is the identification of a target audience and a determination of what percentage of that audience sees an advertisement, which is known as reach. The other component is the number of times the audience sees the material, known as frequency. People find the gross rating point by multiplying the reach by the frequency.

One important thing to be aware of with gross rating points is that they can count audience members multiple times and this can result in a reach of more than 100%. This is the result of adding up opportunities for exposure over time. For example, if a company airs an ad over four different episodes of a television show, it considers the number of people in the target demographic viewing the show each night and adds them together to find the reach. This is multiplied by the number of times the ad was shown to determine the gross rating point.

The bigger the media vehicle, the bigger the reach. This can make up for limited frequency in some cases. From the perspective of advertising companies, an ad that reaches 80% of the target demographic five times may be better than one only seen by 12% of the demographic 20 times. This is an important consideration to weigh when evaluating gross rating point and the relative success of an advertising campaign, along with other metrics used to analyze advertising success.

Advertisers want to reach as much of the target demographic as often as they can to familiarize people with their products and ad campaigns. When assessing how well a given ad campaign worked, one of the metrics used is the gross rating point. This statistic can be used to compare a campaign with other campaigns for the same product, as well as campaigns for competing products made by other companies. If the gross rating point is high and the relative returns are low, it suggests that something about the campaign is not working.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By allenJo — On Oct 30, 2011

@miriam98 - If you want to know where reach and frequency might be more accurate, I think talk radio would be one arena.

It’s extremely targeted, most people can’t record the talk shows (unless they listen to podcasts) and many people will listen to a talk show throughout its duration.

This means that they may in fact be exposed to the same commercial multiple times. As a matter of fact, I think advertising on talk radio is the best vehicle for advertising – both local and nationwide – but of course, it is a very targeted audience.

By miriam98 — On Oct 30, 2011

@Mammmood - I don’t know of an answer to that. I guess they assume that there is still a majority of the population that is still not recording shows through DVRs.

I think the time will come when we will all need boxes to monitor exactly what we’re watching, in order for the advertising industry to have true statistics at their fingertips. Anything less than that and all they have are approximate estimates in my opinion.

By Mammmood — On Oct 29, 2011

One thing that I think distorts reach and frequency is the use of DVRs by more and more households to record their favorite TV shows.

I record many of my favorite shows using DVRs and watch them later when it’s more convenient. What do you think I do when the commercials come on? You guessed it. I hit the skip scene button to leapfrog my way back to the program.

Advertisers are aware of this problem and they often decry it, but that’s too bad for them. I don’t have to watch commercials if I don’t want to.

Granted, I may watch the Super Bowl commercials because they are so entertaining, but I watch the Super Bowl live anyway. So how do advertisers factor in the “commercial skipping” factor in their formulations? I don’t think they can.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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