Reach Makes a Better Impression

31 Mar

Question:  You are about to go into a meeting with the C-suite members of your company to report on the success of your PR campaign.  Would you rather be able to say:

A.)  The campaign is working well, we have generated over 12 million impressions    


B.)  The campaign is working well, we have reached 91% of our target audience an average of 4.2 times.  

OK, so it would have been best to be able to report a direct causal link between PR activities and sales with an estimated ROI of 250%, but, between the two examples above, most of us would rather have reach and frequency data than just impressions.  Reach is typically expressed as a percentage of the audience and therefore requires the practitioner to know the total audience size and how many of the audience were ‘reached’ with a given combination of articles.  You also need to understand media consumption dynamics.  In the advertising world this sort of analysis is common and expected.

The power of reach is that it provides a much more realistic estimate of possible impact than impressions.  For example, if you are targeting women and get a hit in the New York Times, most PR pros today would lay claim to nearly 5 million impressions.  Some, citing pass-along readership and/or a mythical PR credibility advantage, might even inflate this number by a factor of three and claim almost 15 million impressions (For additional discussion on the use of multipliers, please see this IPR White Paper) .  In fact, you have reached a little less than 2 million women with the New York Times hit.  Reach paints a more realistic picture.

In the UK, Metrica purports to have reach and frequency data gleaned from a primary study of 12,000 consumers.  They use it as a standard metric in their bespoke media content analysis offering.  So why don’t any of the U.S.-based media content analysis firms offer reach and frequency metrics?  The database development would be expensive but uptake most likely would be strong. 

While both impressions and reach only represent opportunities to see (OTS), at least the reach approach requires the potential reader to be someone who could actually buy your product or service.  Baby steps of progress.  Next, perhaps we’ll start to measure people who actually saw an article and took the time to read it.  Maybe we’ll use the word du jour and call these ‘authentic impressions’.  

As always, thanks for reading.  -Don B  

20 Responses to “Reach Makes a Better Impression”

  1. Jason Whitmen March 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    A friend of mine just emailed me one of your articles from a while back. I read that one a few more. Really enjoy your blog. Thanks.

    Jason Whitmen

  2. Mariana Sarceda April 8, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    Hi DOn! You’ve really made a point. Sometimes, in PR we get so obsessed with numbers that we only want to hear the highest and most impressive one. However, more often than never, our advertisements or articles have a less signficant impact numerically speaking. I guess we should get acquainted with the idea that it’s not a question of how many people can potentially read our article/ad but how many of our target readers actually paid attention to it. I’ll keep this in mind next time I have to deal with statistcs and show results to my CEO.

  3. Don Bartholomew April 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I believe you are thinking about it in exactly the right way. -Don B

  4. Andrew Laing April 21, 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Don, if I can add. I agree with you on the value of a %reach, but it is not straightforward to calculate what is the total. We often look at national coverage for clients over time within a representative sample of media. But we discount an audience reach based on various factors such as prominence, placement, etc. (we swim against the current by looking for the SMALLEST number — what I guess you might call “authentic” impressions), but then would that number be divided all possible people reached by the outlets? Possibly, but I’m not sure if that fits the bill.

    I’ve been thinking for a while on a similar question as it pertains to comparing levels of media activity in different regions — that is, providing a valid metric over time that says media in the North are more active on the topic than media in the South. It’s easy to say coverage/impressions was greater in one region than the next, but whether there was really more activity in the West versus the East is more complicated, because it requires standardizing in some way the total potential audience and/or newshole available.

    Nonetheless, always love questions about methods and metrics.

  5. metricsman April 22, 2008 at 8:39 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks very much for reading and your comment. Hope all is well in my second favorite country. I agree there are challenges to getting proper population numbers or even tight estimates thereof. The available data is somewhat better for consumer markets (e.g. census data) than it is for B2B markets. Estimating, say, the number of working chemical engineers in Canada is a difficult number to come by and would require some estimation or extrapolation.

    I don’t necessarily agree with factoring the reach estimate by some variable of quality (e.g. prominence, tonality). I believe there is some merit in keeping the ‘opportunities to see’ pure and then, perhaps, making some qualitative assessments in order to guesstimate the likely marketing impact.

    For the levels of media activity by region, presumably we’re speaking about regional and not national issues because anything of national interest that breaks in a particular region quickly (same hour/day/week) goes national. It might be more straightforward to start with the audiences (i.e. are there regional differences in topics, tastes, incomes, etc.?) and then see which media channels best reach each of the audiences that you/your clients have an interest in.

    Thanks again Andrew. -Don B

  6. the hartford in hartford ct August 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Hurrah, that’s what I was looking for, what a information! existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this website.

  7. plumbing leaks August 22, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    Hi there, all the time i used to check webpage posts here early in the
    dawn, because i enjoy to gain knowledge of more and more.

  8. dieta alcalina August 22, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    Hurrah, that’s what I was searching for, what a material!
    present here at this website, thanks admin of this site.

  9. Auto Accident Injury in Provo August 22, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment
    (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum
    it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any helpful hints for rookie blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

  10. Suzanna August 23, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog frtom my new apple iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to
    all yolur posts! Keep up the excellent work!

  11. become a video game beta tester August 23, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    I think this is one of the most significant info for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general
    things, The website style is perfect, the articles is really excellent :
    D. Good job, cheers

  12. best cloud phone system New York City August 24, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  13. penny stock picks August 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I’m not
    sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about
    my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

  14. build aquaponics system Hawaii August 26, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s
    to be precisely what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content for you personally?

    I wouldn’t mind publishing a post or elaborating on a number of
    the subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web log!

  15. best ip phone service New York City August 26, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Good way of telling, and nice article to get information regarding
    my presentation subject, which i am going to deliver in academy.

  16. jiu jitsu classes honolulu August 27, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    Hello, yeah this article is really good and I have learned lot of things from
    it on the topic of blogging. thanks.

  17. driveway cleaning prices essex August 27, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    There’s definately a lot to learn about this subject.

    I like all the points you’ve made.

  18. how to get phlebotomy certification August 28, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good
    success. If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

  19. learn jiu jitsu in honolulu August 29, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Great items from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff prior to and you are just
    too great. I really like what you’ve got right here, certainly like what you’re
    saying and the way in which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue
    to care for to stay it sensible. I can’t wait to learn much
    more from you. This is actually a wonderful site.


  1. Social Media Measurement: How Do You Get The C-Suite Buy In? | V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency - January 9, 2012

    [...] Don Bartholomew, one of my favorite metrics-obsessed researchers, is fond of saying, “Measurement is about [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers

%d bloggers like this: