Monday, October 5, 2009

Striking the Balance - Tipping Towards Integrated Measurement

"If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." --Benjamin Franklin

Traditional media vs. New media.
Counting impressions vs. Measuring engagement.
Measuring share-of-voice vs. Overall return on investment.

Lately I've been reading a lot of articles, blog posts and even Twitter conversations that seem to focus on the dichotomy of balancing the traditional model of communications/PR with the established social media and digital practices that are increasingly popular. Everything I read points out that there must be a balance or strategic approach to all activities (traditional or new) that justifies the cost and spend of any communication investment. 

What strikes me now is that I see a tipping point where agencies, companies and government entities are starting to look beyond the traditional communication metrics and take a more encompassing integrated approach to evaluating and gathering information about their outreach activities. I see less emphasis on the estimated number of impressions and more on the engagement and conversion rates to measure the success of or if necessary, tweak the direction of a communications campaign. 

Integrated measurement of communication tactics is not new. It's just a happy trend that I see becoming increasingly popular as private and public organizations seek to integrate social and digital communications into their traditional marketing and awareness campaigns.

Last week, Commentz pointed me to Olivier Blanchard (@TheBrandBuilder) presenting The Definitive Social Media ROI Presentation. It is the first time I have come across a presentation that articulates how companies should approach and measure the effectiveness of their social media and traditional marketing communication activities. Engaging as well as informative, Blanchard's presentation is the first one I've seen to talk about the non-financial impact (the focus of most social metrics initially) and mapping those to overall business metrics/analytics that accounts for and tracks real dollars and cents. I highly recommend viewing Blanchard's presentation. It struck me as the most articulate and accurate way to discuss the real business value (not just awareness and frequency) with C-Suite executives.

I also came across this article in today's Advertising Age which articulates how MS&L, Weber Shandwick, and Porter Novelli are tweaking their PR metrics to measure not just the effectiveness of their communication campaigns, but how their communication strategy can be mapped back to sales and conversions for their clients. While this is not new (a lot of IMC agencies have been doing this for years), it is exciting to see that "PR" firms are taking the lead on measurement and are not just using the data to evaluate the campaigns effectiveness, but are gathering information to tweak campaigns and raise client's situational awareness to address issues and engage in real time. 

"PR" is becoming less about controlling the message and more about collecting, analyzing and acting upon intelligence from all stakeholders. Are you seeing more agencies, companies, and organizations moving towards a more integrated approach to measuring ROI? Are more resources (monetary or other) being devoted to listen and get actionable intelligence?


KDPaine said...

I have a saying which is "you're never wrong, you're just early." 23 years ago, I started my first measurement company, and started advocating for an integrated approach to PR measurement -- focusing on outcomes rather than stacks of clips or the dreaded AVE. It's both sad and wonderful that its taken this long for PR people to figure this out.
However, I have to object to your claim that Oliver Blanchard is a pioneer in this. You might want to check out some of my presentation on Slideshare or on our site:
pretty much all of which have outlined ways to integrate traditional and social media measurement.

Colleen Campbell said...

I am honored you read my blog post! I am a huge admirer of your work!!!
I linked to Blanchard's presentation because I felt it was a fantastic recent example of how to talk to the C-Suite about social media metrics. Nowhere in my post did I call him a pioneer. Again, I cannot tell you how much your work has influenced me in my career. I truly appreciate your dedication to communication metrics and to the advancement research and evaluation. You have been and remain a true pioneer in this discipline!Thank you for providing me with the link to your most recent presentations/speeches. It is much appreciated!