There was a time in public relations when clients would ask for clip books. I, and countless others, spent hours upon hours, scanning, photocopying and printing articles and mastheads trying to capture every mention of a client. We would spend hours trying to come up with some magic number to provide a monetary value of those articles. How many people did they really reach? Should an article be more valuable than an advertisement or vice versa? How can we put an actual dollar figure to an interview with the New York Times?
At the end of every year clients would assess an agency’s value on how heavy and thick that clip book was – how loud of a thud it would make when hitting the CEO’s desk. But today, thanks to the ever-evolving ways people consume media, marketing and PR pros face the same problem: How can we put a value on marketing communications? What’s the real ROI a CMO and CFO want to see?
Consumer technologies such as smartphones, tablets, Xboxes, DVRs and companies such as Netflix and Hulu make it more and more challenging to understand if, who, how and when consumers are truly watching, reading, and interacting with media. Measuring the number of consumers reading articles, engaging online, watching a program or seeing an ad is becoming extremely difficult. It’s a delicate balance between corporations who depend on advertising revenue and consumers/businesses becoming savvier in developing ways to avoid it.
In March, Nielsen and GroupM announced that they are working together to develop the first cross-platform advertising measurement tool to help monitor consumer activity and better understand the new digital marketing mix. They will be working to measure the overlap and reach of marketing through online and TV campaigns. A problem faced by many broadcasters in trying to sell both online space and airtime to clients.
While this solution begins to solve part of the problem, there remains the question of social media – how impactful is a tweet? How can you measure a post on Facebook or a picture on Pinterest? How do you put a value on online conversations?
It isn’t just the proliferation of new media, but new ways of consuming traditional media. In May, DishTV introduced AutoHop, a feature that allows customers to “hop” over commercials on the second day of it being stored on their DVR (with the exception of live events). This announcement was quickly followed by a Fox lawsuit stating the technology violates copyright laws; a case that will be played out later this summer in court. With new technology and consumer consumption and use of media – it’s hard to know how consumers are engaged.
With so many channels to reach an audience, it is more important than ever to make sure your communications campaigns are relevant. Instead of shouting through a bull-horn, communicators need to create targeted, concise messaging and compelling content and disseminate it through the right media at the right time to drive action. But we can only do this if we have a really deep understanding of the audience.
Instead of trying to impress clients with a thud, we should aim to help our clients make a real impact by increasing their relevance.