A guest post from IIA Social Media Working Group Member Eoin Kennedy of Slattery Communications. You can check out Eoin’s blog here. (I particularly like his most recent post at time of writing about the implications of using multiple usernames across social networks.)
IIA Member Company SimplyZesty recently ran another successful measurement camp. The session itself was attended by less than normal but ran to a familiar structure with two presenters followed by a group activity based on three case study scenarios.
Overall although online is much more measurable than traditional media the demands to quantify it financially have not been met to date. The first wave of measurement has been around physical numbers i.e. numbers of followers, number of posts. These give a topline indication of engagement but translating this into actual worth is tricky. How much is a follower/friend actually worth? Sure it’s great to get some “thumbs up” and “love” but what are these actual measures worth? For property owners such as bebo this poses real challenges. Engagement models are generally built around the pushing and advertising of the page profile but savvy brand holders want more. The burden of responsibility is getting pushed back to the property owners as marketers want more metrics to gauge success while platform owners need agreement on values attached to elements so that they can build charging models. Currently the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) advertising model is the main charging structure used. If the platform owner is charged with the financial delivery then they need to have full control over the creative, which again would pose problems.
Philip McCarthy now ex Bebo gave a good overview of some campaigns that they have run and admitted that measurement is still at an early stage. Bebo does engagement very well but an experience with Coca Cola Burn posed interesting questions about what he should have charged. Current values are around 3 euro cost per thousand which would indicate a value of €60k for the Coke campaign that achieved 20m impressions. The campaign achieved 17,000 visits to the site, 126 comments, 7 photos, 70 quizzes, 679 skins used.
Engagement is something that social media does really well and according to Philip there must be a value to it.
Philip debated using traditional rates that are charged for advertorials, something that is pretty much set and understood with traditional media. Basing digital charging models on established off line models has merit in that brand owners understand them but is probably not the best starting point.
The establishment of a base line measurement was discussed that could be used across other media but no one has yet taken this step to any great degree.
Where this gets particularly difficult is in getting values on things like thumbs up, love and other signs of engagement used on different social networks. It’s great to get them but what do they really mean and what value could be put on them?
One of the areas discussed that could help on measurement in the real world was the use of redeemable bar codes. The idea being that rather than a virtual present that people could send a ‘printable’ bar code or even one that could be displayed on a phone. This could be taken to an outlet and redeemed. This could help track social media activity to actual sales. For example a coffee shop could build an app that allows users to send a coffee to friends. The friend could print out or show the barcode that would be scanned through at an actual coffee shop. By doing this the coffee shop could measure the actual sales generated by the voucher and social media activity. Some good work in being done in this area by IIA Member Company Zappa but problems still exist for terminals to read bar codes on screen.
The overall feeling from the event was that some leadership needs to be established in measuring the value of online campaigns and that the current metrics, while good, are not financially based enough for brand owners. The UK Measurement Camp has also suffered from similar problems.
My own observation is that once criteria that are reasonably sound are established Klout, TweetLevel for Twitter, or Technorati for blogs could start to become industry standards. At some point someone needs to take a brave step. The online community will undoubtable respond and some progress could be made.