Archive | May, 2010

Will Barcelona Measurement Debate Shake Up the Industry?

26 May

In mid-June, the Second European Summit on Measurement will be held in Barcelona.  The Summit is jointly organized by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations.  The highlight of the conference will be a debate to “articulate and agree on standard metrics and measurement techniques…” according to a press release issued last week.

David Rockland, head of research for Ketchum, will lead the session.  Mr. Rockland has a lofty vision and high hopes for the debate, “We regard this as the industry’s ‘Commitment Conference’.  This is a very powerful moment in time in the history of public relations.  Until now, public relations has been undervalued due to its inability to measure itself.  The goal of this summit is to establish consistency in order to increase credibility.”

The three-day conference is expected to be attended by about 150 people, including many measurement thought leaders.  It should be interesting to see what comes out of this event.  Will it serve as a wake-up call to the industry?  Time will tell.  I’ll post some thoughts once the summit concludes.

Keeping it real…and transparent

  • I am a member of the Institute for Public Relations, Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation
  • My agency, Fleishman Hillard, has agreed to join AMEC (pending paperwork)
  • Ketchum is a sister Omnicom agency

The Digitization of Research and Measurement

12 May

This post first appeared as an agency guest post on Jason Fall’s Social Media Explorer blog.  You can see it here.


The field of public relations has undergone two major revolutions in the past 15 years or so.  The advent of the Internet represents the first revolution.  This revolution primarily impacted the way content was created, distributed and consumed.  It also fundamentally changed the nature of communication – remember email became the first killer app of the Internet revolution.  The second revolution is social networks.  Again content creation was impacted, led by consumer generated content in multiple forms.  Perhaps more importantly, peer-to-peer communication between consumers, and two-way communication between consumers and brands/companies, have been enabled and are having a profound impact on the way companies are organized and behave.  The worlds of marketing and public relations have made an analog to digital conversion.  And with it, we are in the midst of the digitization research and measurement.

New Models, New Metrics

Communication models are a linear representation of how a communication process works and are important in providing a framework for evaluation and measurement.   The Outputs – Outtakes – Outcomes communication model often used in public relations today has two primary deficiencies in the era of digitization and social networks – clarity and relevance. 

  • Clarity: The model is difficult for many to understand and apply.  Public relations practitioners regularly get Outputs confused with Outtakes or Outcomes.  Outtakes are not often used in the U.S. – they seem much more prevalent in Europe.  The overall taxonomy can be confusing and is defined in different ways by different practitioners or organizations.  Further compounding the confusion is the fact audiences we present our results to rarely understand the terms and have trouble relating to them.  In short, the terms are too much ‘inside baseball’.
  • Relevance: The model was developed when communication was media-centric.  Digitization, consumer-generated content and social networks have shifted communication from a media-centric world to a content-centric world.  How receivers of communication engage and are influenced by content has fundamentally changed.

What is needed is a metrics taxonomy that is easier to explain, understand and apply.  Ideally one that is applicable for traditional and social media.  Here is the model we apply at Fleishman Hillard.

With the new model comes new metrics primarily driven by social media/networks.  Exposure  includes traditional metrics like Impressions and Message Delivery, and digital metrics like Search Rank, Twitter Reach and Average Daily Visitors.  Engagement includes traditional metrics like Readership, but adds new metrics like Subscriptions, Repeat Visitors and Follower Mention %.  Influence in the model refers to influence of the target audience, not who has influence in social networks.  Influence metrics range from increases in Brand Consideration to changes in attitudes and opinions to changes in online click behavior.  Action metrics can range from event attendance to voting for/against legislation to buying a product.

New Data, New Places

Public relations research and measurement has historically been driven by content analysis.  As content increasingly became available in digital form, the techniques of research and measurement didn’t change so much as the way content was aggregated and delivered for analysis.  Then web-based platforms became available from a variety of vendors to digitize and automate content analysis while the metrics being measured – article counts, impressions, message uptake and sentiment for example – basically remained constant with previous, more manual, methods.  Today, the digitization of research and measurement has broadened from this predominately singular focus to include data and interactions from three distinct regions or zones of research and measurement as shown in the figure below.

As company websites, e-Commerce sites and other forms of ‘owned’ media proliferated, web analytics software provided an explosion of data and new metrics like unique visitors, page views, click through rates, duration, referring sites and conversions become widely used and reported.  We became over-served with data and underserved with insight.

The exponential rise in popularity of social networks in the last five years raised the bar again and presented new challenges in digital research and measurement.  Now we were faced with measuring conversations and not just clicks.  Measuring engagement became more important than measuring eyeballs.  The frontier in social media measurement is evolving toward measuring both the conversations and behavior patterns occurring within social networks, and understanding and connecting the underlying influences and motivations for the online behavior.

The third area of interest is in all the real-world, offline interactions and transactions. Scan and other digital sales data is important to understanding, tracking and connecting online and offline behavior and actions.   Connecting mobile transactions, online and offline behavior and WOM is a significant challenge.

Although we have attempted to define three distinct ‘zones’ of digital research and measurement necessary to address the full spectrum of social media and marketing impact, a robust measurement strategy should take a holistic, integrated approach using methodologies, tools, data and metrics from all three zones.  The goal is to be able to track the behavior, interactions and transactions of individuals across all three zones, across multiple platforms and physical locations, understanding how online behavior impacts offline behavior and vice-versa.

New Scope, New Integration

Today at Fleishman Hillard, we recognize the very definition of public relations is rapidly evolving to encompass a much broader and more integrated view of communications and how we connect, engage and build relationships with consumers and other stakeholders on behalf of our clients.  Digitization in all its forms has driven and accelerated this important change.  While public relations has traditionally been oriented toward ‘earned media’ – gaining placements of client stories in print and broadcast media based on the strength of the story and quality of the pitch – today’s content-driven world demands much more.  The scope now must include all the consumer touch points available in our increasingly digital world.  We capture this new scope and integration in a model we refer to as PESO – Paid/Earned/Shared/Owned.  Our PESO model predates the similar Forrester model (Paid/Earned/Owned) and is different in an important way.  We created two categories, Earned and Shared, where the other model has one – Earned.  We believe this better comprehends strategies like blogger outreach and other proactive efforts undertaken by practitioners as ’Earned’,  distinct from efforts that may be passive or reactive.  Here is how we define the elements of our model:

Paid – refers to all forms of paid content that exists on third-party channels or venues.  This includes banner or display advertisements, pay-per-click programs, sponsorships and advertorials.

Earned – includes traditional media outreach as well as blogger relations/outreach where we attempt to influence and encourage third-party content providers to write about our clients and their products and services.

Shared – refers to social networks and technologies controlled by consumers along with online and offline WOM

Owned – includes all websites and web properties controlled by a company or brand including company or product websites, micro-sites, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter channels.

The enhanced scope and integration represented by the PESO model drives a corresponding broadening and need for integration in digital research and measurement.  One can easily find themselves attempting to measure a highly integrated program that includes the awareness created with paid media, the relevance and information delivered via owned, the credibility delivered by earned media and measuring the conversations and interactions occurring in shared media.  Just from a metrics perspective, the PESO model requires a significant broadening in thinking as shown in the matrix below.

Digitization has changed what we need to research and measure, where we find data and how we perform analysis.  The future will bring more data, better tools and improved methodologies.  Sifting insights from the mounds of data will remain a major challenge.  The intersection of marketing, privacy concerns and research must be navigated.  The constant in all the change brought by digitization is who – human analysts and research.  Discovery and insight, like it was 15 years ago, remains fundamentally a human process.  It remains the analog constant in a world of digitization.

Measure the Puzzle Not the Pieces

1 May

A while back, I remember someone posting a question to a Linked-In discussion group along the lines of, ‘I just got my client a hit in USA Today.  How much is that worth?’.   More recently, ADWEEK ran an article entitled, Value of a Fan on Facebook: $3.60, citing an attempt by Vitrue to essentially assign a media value to a Facebook Fan.  (Sidebar: Is a Liker worth as much as a Fan?).  Setting aside an argument of the value attribution methodology used by Vitrue (I’m not a fan, or a liker), the fundamental issue I have with each example is the same, they are trying to measure the pieces and not the puzzle.

A media hit, a tweet, gaining a Fan/Liker, or obtaining a Follower are all pieces to a larger puzzle called a social media/business campaign, initiative, effort or program.   For simplicity, let’s refer to them as programs henceforth.  Programs have, or should have, objectives.  Done correctly, these objectives are measurable.  Good measurement practice suggests you assess performance against stated objectives.  Sure, it is also important to assess performance of program strategies and tactics – primarily as a diagnostic – but ultimately we must measure performance against objectives.  This is a base condition for accountability.

Gaining media coverage, sending tweets or getting others to tweet about you, creating Likers or gaining Followers should be thought of as strategies or perhaps tactics.  Objectives are what you want to happen as a result of the combination of strategies and tactics.  Programs are not made of single media hits, tweets, Likers or Followers.  They are longitudinal, holistic and integrated.  Successful programs might generate hundreds of media hits, scores of blog posts, and thousands of Likers or Followers.  Orchestrated correctly, all these strategies and tactics should help us achieve our overall program objectives.  The reality of the situation is any one discrete result of a campaign – a hit, Liker or Follower for example – usually has a very small overall impact.  The impact most likely would not be measurable, and if it was, it would not likely be meaningful.  They are just pieces of the overall program puzzle.

Let’s conclude with a simplistic Facebook program example.  Your tactic is to gain more Likers that meet a certain demographic profile.  Your strategies are to create an engaged brand community in Facebook, and to encourage online and offline WOM about the brand.  Your objective is to increase brand preference from 17% to 21% in the next 12 months.  Measure this objective, and if you want to do value attribution and calculate ROI, figure out how much each 1% increase in brand preference is worth in incremental sales.  That’s a puzzle worth solving.

Photo From liza31337

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