The challenge of tackling the measurement of multi-channel and transmedia activity was a consistent theme at last week’s eMetrics conference inToronto. Head scratchers included:
- How do we know how many same or different people we are attracting to the various channels? There is no cross media reach and frequency measurement.
- What does each channel contribute to the success of the program? We don’t know the first channel that brought someone to our story or the one(s) that led to outcomes such as fandom or sales.
- How can we measure and value engagement? Different channels invite different levels of interaction – how much more is one worth over another? How do soft measures like time spent or Likes correlate with hard measure like sales?
- How do we capture the value and/or implications of where fans take our story? They may be setting up their own tribute Facebook pages or posting derivative videos on YouTube…
- Can we understand and harness temporality? People are interacting with our content concurrently (but not all the time) and sequentially (but not all in the same order). We also know there are latent effects, but when and to what degree?
Several people at the conference posited that consumer centric versus channel centric measurement is the only way we are going to begin to answers many of these questions. It is often bemoaned that we’ll never get there given how entrenched individual channel measurement providers, methodologies, and currencies are. A unified approached to audience measurement has been talked about in Canada for many, many years. It certainly seems that it should be possible in this country given we have a single source for each mass medium and all are non profit tripartite organizations (media/agency/advertiser) except for online (comScore). It also seems that is should be more possible today than ever before given new technologies like PPM. However, it also seems to me that it is still a tremendous undertaking to provide a unified view of mass media audiences when we know that email, community papers, out of home and a myriad of other activities will not be captured.
What to do? Here are two things marketers can work on right now:
1. Focus on outcomes and establish KPIs (key performance indicators) up front. Know what success looks like and measure it consistently. Higher order metrics like sales and brand favourability tracked over time enable opportunities to tease out media mix effectiveness through testing and regression analysis. Yes this approach is backwards looking, a limitation in a rapidly changing media environment. But the bottom line is the bottom line – focusing on what success looks like avoids analysis paralysis and ensures you are not measuring just for the sake of it.
2. Conduct cross media consumer centric measurement to establish values particular to your brand or category. Panel research costs are low and the potential return on investment of establishing your own norms is high. Knowing your brand’s audience relative to any channel’s audience and the value of an impression to you versus what it is being sold at is an incredible advantage from a buying perspective. Building your channel investment strategy from your consumer’s perspective may mean significant departures from conventional best practices in terms of how much TV, how much online, etc. and lead to improved ROI. Also by conducting your own consumer and brand centric research you can uncover what is really being noticed and retained by consumers, enabling you to build more powerful stories and deliver more effective messages.