Every PR agency worth its salt was wrestling with the same thing. How to demonstrate to clients the value of earned media coverage, particularly the rapidly growing area of online, compared to other channels.
Bear in mind, this was simply to compare the volume and visibility of coverage. This was before we’d quite got to grips with the new concepts of engagement and then advocacy which online comms offered.
It never quite took off — probably because at the time we simply didn’t have the tools/time to implement or measure it properly. But also too many clients insisted on a (shoot me please!) AVE comparison — which also highlighted their naivity about how online advertising was purchased — but that’s another story.
Many of the finest PR (and now social/digital) professionals were wrestling with the same thing. People like Philip Sheldrake and Stephen Waddingtonin the UK, and Katie Paine in the US, as well as AMEC and plenty of people involved in the Barcelona Principles.
So I’m pleased to see people like Ev at Medium again drawing attention to the futility of the simplistic comparison metrics which are still industry-standard, and proposing something similar(ish) — TTR total time reading in Medium’s case — to replace them.
In his recent Medium post Ev defends his quote about ‘not giving a shit’ that Instagram has more unique users than Twitter, on the basis that both channels/media perform very different functions, so simply to compare one metric (perhaps the easiest metric to grab hold of — number of uniques) is to dramatically miss the point of the purpose and value that each channel brings to its users.
I got on a similar high-horse when a large chunk of the social media bubble went crazy for Klout. Again, a one-dimensional metric which was bound to fail in a multi-dimensional world.
Are there better ways of comparing apples and pears? I think there are. Media buyers have tried various methods to roll together TVRs, uniques, pre-roll views, eye-tracking and God knows what else, but at the end of the day there isn’t yet a way to accurately measure and compare volume and influence of any media coverage, or channel.
If advertisers want to dig a bit deeper and can effectively segregate different audiences then a more rigorous comparison might be a return to my old thinking of cost per unique engagement minute, or in Medium’s case, the TTR — total time reading.
That could at least demonstrate how many people spend how much time looking at your content, so people can draw some sort of ROI and value against it. At its most basic level, to decide whether it’s worth spending money on paying people to create it.
As more brands and SMEs become publishers, I’m convinced these metrics will become easier to measure, and can provide a benchmark against which to see what content is ‘working’. They could also possibly provide a benchmark aross different channels too.
[This was first posted on Medium.com]