“What’s the ROI of social?” That’s a question I always tackle in my talks on digital measurement, and for good reason – we want to know if programs work to help brands reach their financial goals, and how much they are contributing.
In many instances, ROI is difficult to measure, but as measurement expert Katie Paine (shown left), CEO of Paine Publishing points out, “but that doesn’t mean they are bad investments.”
Katie and I advocate understanding the value of investments brands make in social initiatives. She recently issued a 7 guideline set that provides utterly practical advice for communicators who want to understand their results and share them across the organization.
Katie Paine’s 7 Rules for Measuring Social and PR Value
Count all costs, direct and apportioned
Be conservative with forecasting your expected results
Explain everything in language your listener/reader easily understands
Make sure the value matches the objectives and/or goals. Use relevant metrics, not vanity measures that look good.
Do not try to measure a long-term strategy with short-term value
Do not use the lingo of accountants to articulate social change
Do not fall for the ROI excuse, which is often a red herring used by skeptics to “challenge the value of a program or seek a convenient way to reject it.”
Katie explains these 7 points more fully in a pdf available on the Paine Publishing website, or email Katie [kdpaine at painepublishing dot com] and ask for a copy. Definitely worth a visit, the site offers valuable resources on social and PR measurement that anyone involved in understanding communications impact should routinely visit.
I coined the word “humetrics” while writing The Digital Metrics Field Guide to capture the idea that digital measurement increasingly captures what people are doing, saying, and feeling, and that measurement becomes a way to understand people as people, not as inanimate numbers. This edition of SAS showed that promising technologies are not merely becoming commercialized but becoming applicable, useful, and capable of generating meaningful business results.
We still have a way to go – I can’t believe how much writing about social media in particular is focused on strategies and tactics but not what individuals are looking to accomplish in their lives.
But SAS 2015 showed that the cutting edge is understanding people, their feelings, emotions, and actions for business-building insights. Here were some of the highlights:
Seth Grimes, conference organizer and probably the most knowledgeable person about all things text, started us off with the notion that we are operating in a research world of “facts and feelings.” The two are inter-related. He and I have been thinking along similar lines. Independently of one another he started emphasizing a term similar to humetrics, what he calls “human analytics.” This idea appears to be gaining prominence within the zeitgeist.
John Liu of cognitive computing company Digital Reasoning is on this path, too. He told me: “advances in tech and sentiment have brought us to the point where mining cognitive and emotional behavior is rapidly becoming mainstream. Take a quick look at the Digital Reasoning website to see what he means.
Emotient demonstrated their very cool facial coding application. If awards were given out for best demo, theirs would have won best in show. Not only does their software analyze one person, it is capable of analyzing groups of people. For those of us in communications, their software is used to analyze commercials. Their approach brings the cost of emotional response research way down while making it highly scalable and more precise. Unlike many of the neuromarketing approaches that signal when an emotional response occurred, this goes further by specifying the emotions and the sequence of emotions that people experience while watching an ad. Emotient can integrate with third-party surveys, which opens up many possibilities.
Along with emotions, the work of motivational psychologist David Forbes (CEO of Forbes Consulting, a Copernicus Company) was showcased in a workshop centered on his new book The Science of Why: Decoding Human Emotion and Transforming Marketing Strategy. David’s approach centers on 9 motivations that are discoverable through a method he developed called MindSight. In just three minutes a person can be motivationally typed. When a sample of respondents is typed, the patterns of motivations suggest segments that are unique and mutually exclusive, thereby allowing them to be used for target marketing purposes. Like Emotient, MindSight can be linked to from a third-party survey or task to add a motivational layer to the analysis. Again, nearly unlimited opportunities. I plan on testing it in the cognitive economics studies I’m doing for my new book Millennials, Mindsets, and Money.
In addition to these solutions, many papers went beyond reporting numbers to talking about people. Look through the agenda to see what I mean.
I’ve attended several of the SAS meetings over the years. This one had the strongest program so far. I’m looking forward to the next one.
Ted McConnell, sought-after digital consultant, former EVP Digital at ARF, and past head of digital for P&G tells a story about how one client of his, a small content company, depends upon The Digital Metrics Field Guide to make themselves smarter and to give top-notch service to their roster of large brands. The Field Guide is available here: http://bit.ly/FieldGuide_Buy
Fordham University’s Center for Positive Marketing put on its 4th Conference for Positive Marketing on March 26. A great blend of academic and practitioner talks and viewpoints, most of us participating felt refreshed and energized.
For me, I was absolutely thrilled that the humanistic ideas I and others have written about and talked on for a few decades are becoming accepted more widely and by mainstream brands. It also served to frame my own journey in business and research.
Empathy and Experience Design
I got a charge from hearing Stacy Graiko of Millward Brown Firefly talk about a retailer who wanted their customers to leave feeling better than when they walked in, irregardless of whether they bought something. When my mother and I opened a restaurant, City Island Diner, back in 1986, those exact words were the first principle of my business plan – they emerged from listening research I did to figure out what type of restaurant City Islanders wanted that we could create for them.
Cigna’s Christine Chastain and Tim McKnight, VP Global Innovation, talked about empathy, design thinking. and consumer experience.
Their excellent presentation reminded me of how I designed the restaurant from that first principle: the menu was to focus on comfort on familiarity – I described it as “the food you had growing up, but made with the freshest ingredients, to order, and in front of you.” I also banished square edges and right angles to the extent possible, which offered respite from the gridded world most of us live in, where our vision is forced to be straight, forward or back, up or down. This took form in the plates, cups, and saucers – only round or oval, chamfered edges on the tables, round stools, a curved counter, and so on, which let the eye wander. For dinners, every night had a theme that was warmly evocative and alliterative where possible: Meatloaf Mondays, Turkey Tuesdays, Wegetable Wednesdays, Pot Luck Thursdays and Fish Fridays. Many menu item names reflected the nautical heritage of City Island, and several local characters lent their names to desserts. My mother owned the restaurant for 11 years, then sold it to a local family – the “new” owners – who’ve had it for 18 more and counting. Some of the people hired over 25 years ago still work there, as do their kids, sometimes. A number of movies shot scenes in there, such as Solitary Man, with Danny DeVito as the Diner owner who offers his friend Michael Douglas a job. Jerry Seinfeld did an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Ricky Gervais at City Island Diner.
Brand Love, Materialism, and Happiness
Prof. Aaron Ahuvia of the U. Michigan Dearborn Business School gave a talk about brand love, materialism, and happiness. Generally he found that materialism was not related to happiness, but he also found that, paradoxically, people who expressed love for brands were happier. He admitted that he didn’t have an adequate way to explain the findings yet and urged the audience to submit ideas. This was unusual at a conference – so often the ideas presented are so apparently airtight, but very welcome, showing that we have much to learn and can do so collaboratively.
Using Mobile Technology for Good: Mobile Apps, mHealth, and Mindsets
The Conference offered 6 Salons – presentations followed by participant discussion. These were held in 3 sets of two that ran concurrently. I gave one with Dr. Sandy Ng of RMIT (Melbourne Australia) having to do with mobile apps, mHealth, and mindsets. Sandy talked about her research on mobile apps, and I reviewed research by my colleague Howard Moskowitz on reducing hospital re-admission rates. Conversation we stimulated dealt with creating apps that helped people improve their lives, the need for integrated apps, and different ways to think about monetizing apps.
Training Positive Marketers
Dawn Lerman, who heads the Center for Positive Marketing, and Yanan Wang of Bishop’s University led a salon on training positive marketers. Yanan recapped a course she gives on “Happiness Marketing.” She covered a lot of ground. What I found interesting was the emphasis on training marketers to be happier people in order to create products and programs that help people improve their well-being, quality of life, and life satisfaction. Dr. Wang outlined specific frameworks that strengthen marketers’ empathy and understanding. The discussion following was far ranging and very engaging, touching on areas like inner strength, self-knowledge, and how can happiness marketing avoid being seen as a cute fad and become integrated into marketing culture.
I couldn’t attend every salon, but all the topics were of interest. They were: Gifts, Reciprocity & Obligation: Applications for Positive Marketing; Psychotherapists, Life Coaches & Professional Organizers: Why Consumers Seek Professional Help and How Professionals Improve Consumer Well-being; Overcoming Stereotypes in Multicultural and Global Marketing Strategy; and Purpose Driven Marketing: Achieving Social Change Through Brands and Consumer Advocates
You’ve probably felt it. Advertising and measurement has changed. And you’re uneasy. You sense that the old school ideas centered on the impact of media exposure—the one that led us to ask: “what is our advertising doing to people?”—doesn’t really describe how advertising works today.
But many of us—and probably you, too—realize that we need an up to date model to understand how advertising works in today’s digital, social, mobile world. A world where people act, transact, speak, and feel. One where the data we collect captures their humanity and life in the world. And one that asks a different question now: “What are people doing with our advertising, and with what effect?”
5 Different Ways to Think About Advertising
I asked experts contributing to The Digital Metrics Field Guide to share their thoughts about how we should be thinking about advertising today. They boil down to five:
#1. Digital Currencies May Not Be Needed After All
Merkle CRO Yaakov KImelfeld presented a challenge: Do we need a currency for digital media? His provocative answer—“it’s not clear that we do.” Well-designed online campaigns “thrive in the absence of a currency.” Kimelfeld questions the need for comparable cross-media metrics. While their familiarity comforts us and are simple to understand, they chain us and restrain us from exploiting “online’s unique capabilities for brand building and customer experience.” Focusing on reach and frequency forces us to serve ads based on demographics, not on relevant audience characteristics such as interactions with the ad, sharing, influence, and other uniquely online behaviors. Kimelfeld urges us “to start facing forward.”
#2. We Need to Shift from Models Of Audience Delivery to Models of Advertising Effectiveness
Graeme Hutton of media agency UM advises the need to develop an advertising model for our 21st century, not the 19th—when straight line Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) and purchase funnel models appeared on the scene. Hutton argues that we should shift from models of audience delivery—which we still need to measure—to models of advertising effectiveness grounded in contemporary science and empirically supported. Hutton sees progress coming from research areas like neuroscience and analyzing online social behavior. Armed with a contemporary model of advertising rooted in effectiveness, advertisers and agencies should be better able to explain why their advertising will work and how it will work, leading to improved planning and purchasing that reduces uncertainty and improves business results.
#3. Include The Consumer’s Context to Understand Effectiveness
Advertising’s effectiveness model should include context. Kevin Moeller, formerly of Media Behavior Institute but now at UM, contends that effective targeting in today’s complex media system depends on deep insight into the roles consumers are playing, the situations they are in, and the emotions they are experiencing at the moment that messages reach them. Reaching audiences when they are most receptive to the message often improves the response to advertising, resulting in enhanced advertising ROI and increased value to advertisers.
#4. Evaluate Advertising Performance on Consumer Actions
Niels Schillewaert and Annelies Verhaegheof InSites Consulting believe that the “key performance metrics we need to add to our arsenal for measuring communication effectiveness should really be centered on consumers’ online and offline brand-related actions (COBRAs).” Marketers need to know what people do for their brands after exposure to marketing initiatives for products, services, or experiences. Conversation, sharing, reviewing, and buying are some of the brand-related actions people take. Niels and Annelies found that TV ad effectiveness was related to an ad’s ability to stimulate conversation among viewers.
That finding just received substantial support. Keller-Fay’s Brad Fay recapped a very rigorous WOMMA study analyzed by Analytic Partners. It concluded that “The single most important factor in the success of an advertisement is this: Does it stimulate consumer conversation and sharing? Nothing else matters as much.” Consumer conversations, the study found, “actually increase the sales impact of advertising by 15% and account for an average 13% of consumer sales overall.”
#5. Develop Predictive Indicators for the Outcomes of Actions
MotiveQuest’s David Rabjohns takes consumer actions further. He studied many types of consumer actions, one of which was advocacy: the number of unique people strongly recommending and promoting a brand because they want to. With Northwestern University, his firm modeled the relationship of advocacy to sales—one of the “gold standard” measures of return on investment. Rabjohns and his team discovered correlations that make advocacy a leading indicator for next-month sales. Correlation is not causation of course, but the level of advocacy tells us that something is going on in the real world, as well as in online conversations, that is boosting sales or forcing them to plummet.
These 5 Ways Lead to The Emergence of Humanistic Advertising
A cynic might look at these ideas and say we’ve heard them before. They could be dismissed as nothing more than overused trade terms: engagement, advocacy, and effectiveness. But that sorely misses the point. Too many digitally-oriented campaigns narrowly focus on getting “more” with the belief that if brands can get more consumers to engage, advocate, and act, then marketing success will follow. So they do things that get those numbers up.
But when you consider these ideas, you soon realize a humanistic impulse underlies all of them. They aim to understand people as people living their lives. They see brand marketing and advertising as one means to help people live their lives more as each person would like, and less as the brand wants them to. Now we can relax a bit. We have a newer way to think about advertising.
This more humanistic model will grow in importance over time as we become more comfortable with “humetrics,” or understanding people through measurement, and as more brands shift from a “do to” to a “do with” mindset. The media exposure model will be around for media buying and selling reasons—it’s the way that business is done, but we can expect that its grip on strategy will weaken.
6 Actions You Can Take Towards Humanistic Advertising
There are a number of things we can do for our brands—and ourselves—to help them succeed in this humanistic era:
Challenge accepted strategy. How can a “do-to” strategy transform into a “do-with” strategy?
Identify and study brands that have adopted a humanistic approach and talk them over with your colleagues. These ideas need to be socialized for them take hold . Apple is one of the poster children for this. Find others.
Experiment. Test out old model vs. new model thinking when you can. See which works better, when, and why.
Understand people better. Acquire penetrating insights into who they are, what they value, and what they would like to achieve or attain. Discover the ideas that make a difference to a person and to the business.
Learn about social processes. Most brands still treat social, mobile, and digital as they do mass media.These media are not simply delivery channels, they are webs of connected people and enablers of social interaction and interpersonal communication. Large knowledgebases exist in the social sciences about why people share, engage, or advocate and what results from that at the individual, group, and community levels. Leverage that.
Think of your customers as people living lives in which your brand is a part that contributes to their happiness. Figure out what your brand should do-with them.
Link of the Week
The Google Trends Data Goldmine by Ben Spiegel explains Google Trends and its many uses. I’ve been a fan of Google Trends for years and include it into the hands-on sections in my workshops on social listening. This post is a Link of the Week because the data provides a window into the humetrics of people’s interests and intentions,.
To write The Digital Metrics Field Guide I had to choose which metrics to include from an ever-expanding supply. Sometimes I wondered if there was a metrics nursery somewhere, like the star nursery in 30 Doradus.
So Many Metrics. Why?
When working on the Facebook metrics, I struggled with this question: Why were there so many measures concerned with engagement, interaction and sharing? Clicks. Social Clicks. Consumptions. Likes. Friends. Fans. Etc. Were they all needed? Why?
This stumped me for close to a month until the curtain drew back: The metrics Facebook reported appeared to reflect their assumptions about how social worked on their network, the features and functions they built into their platform, and their business model for selling advertising. I’m using Facebook as an example: the same was true for other social networks, sites, and engines.
Metrics Measure a Platform’s Business Model: The Endometrics Problem
I checked this notion out with Gilles Santini, a mathematician who, among his degrees, has a Masters in the philosophy of statistics and who created many of the industry-standard media measurement models. “Stephen,” he said, “these are ‘endometrics,’ Measures that come from within the system being measured. They measure the performance of a system in its own terms.” Bob Woodard, a former head of global insights for Campbell’s and erstwhile ARF colleague put it more bluntly: “Vendors measure what they want to sell you.” Aha!
A social network, site or engine that talks up its philosophy of “how advertising works on their platform” and is then joined by a chorus of agencies, consultants, or gurus, leads brands to work hard to optimize one or more of the metrics available from that platform to improve their chances for communications success on that platform. It made “perfect sense” to design Facebook campaigns to get as many clicks, likes, or fans as possible.
Business Models Change as Business Changes
Back in 2012 Facebook ran tests with Datalogix matching a Facebooker’s ad exposure on Facebook with their purchase data for 50 advertised brands. They found that 99% of the documented sales were from people who saw ads but did not interact with them. Brand advertising, Facebook VP Brad Smallwood announced, worked just like mass media advertising. Clicks, Smallwood noted, seemed applicable in some cases, such as in direct response campaigns, but it was challenging to understand their offline sales impacts .
Facebook built upon this finding over time and shifted its philosophy, business model, and marketing towards targeting, impressions, reach maximization, and frequency optimization, and away from the old engagement model. Just last month Facebook rolled out LIFT, a tool for measuring online or offline conversions that reinforces their current model.
Metrics That Matter Change When Business Models Change
The point is that philosophies and business models furnished by social networks, sites and engines change over time. This is not a bad thing and is to be expected: after all they are growing and evolving, constantly learning about their platforms and users, figuring out what works, adjusting their endometrics, and revising their sales pitches accordingly.
5 Steps to Overcome the Endometrics Problem and Improve Your Digital Measurement
Platforms adopting new business models make the case for change. What may be best for a platform interests, however, may or may not be best for a brand’s interests. Why? Each is pursuing its own business strategy. Here are 5 steps that help align your communications goals and measurement with the platforms used.
Develop a crystal clear view of the philosophy and business model for any network, site or engine you are considering. Ask yourself these questions: How do they make their money? How do their metrics help them sell? Which of those metrics might be helpful to my brand given our objectives?
Come to your own understanding of the ways a platform or combination of platforms should work for your brands. Most media plans combine networks, sites, and engines.
Develop and agree upon a measurement framework for your communications goals, strategy, and tactics.
Select and fit relevant vendor metrics to your framework.
Periodically monitor and evaluate campaign performance. Delete, add, swap, and optimize metrics as results indicate.
These steps will help you select metrics that measure impact of your communications, tell your story to business partners, and provide the guidance you need to reach your goals. Don’t forget to revisit and reevaluate the platform’s business model to keep abreast of changes and modify your strategy and metrics as necessary.
Link of the Week: Facebook’s EdgeRank – List of Factors and Changes
Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm undergoes periodic revisions to decide which items to place in users’ newsfeeds, and thus affects a brand’s potential reach. Buffer’s Kevan Lee maintains a very helpful list of algorithm factors and changes.
Announcing Field Guide Fridays – a companion site for The Digital Metrics Field Guideproviding updates, links, points of view, debates, practices, tutorials, and interviews. The book is available for pre-order.
Field Guide Fridays address marketing, media, and advertising practitioners. People who use metrics and measurement in support of their brand-building work, but who are not uber-analysts or statisticians. Experts will find Field Guide Fridays a helpful supplemental source for the technically minded.
Expect selectivity. Plenty of sites cover the torrent of metrics news and company announcements, many exceptionally. I’ll stay with my strengths: synthesis, sense-making, strategy, practicality, and simplicity. My first topical post appears next week, and every two weeks afterwards to start.
Naturally I want this series to reflect your interests, concerns, questions, and to offer what you’d like to see: contact me with your ideas and suggestions whenever you like. With your input Field Guide Fridays should become a valuable resource that helps you and your brands use metrics in ways that contribute to their growth and yours.
One last thing. Consider putting the blog on autopilot for the ultimate convenience in receiving Field Guide Fridays. There’s a subscribe box at the top right. Your email won’t be sold or shared with third-parties, it will only be used to communicate with you.
I finally unboxed it today, having opted to let it sit and tempt me to open it. I don’t know why, but that’s what I did. Normally I tear the package open when a new book arrives. The picture at left shows The Digital Metrics Field Guide emerging from its shipping carton. There’s always a moment of truth when getting the first copy, anxiously holding it in my hands, feeling its heft, taking pleasure that the book is real, and then feeling the nervous anticipation that comes from knowing the book is poised to make its way in the world.
Every book makes its own way. Like a child you create it and nurture it and then let it go. While we have some idea of how it will mature once set free, the book’s journey — and yours — depends on what readers make of it. Putting out a new book is exciting, a little anxiety-producing, and possibly life-changing in some small or grand way. That’s the fun — where will it take you?
My greatest satisfaction comes when readers say that they found my book illuminating, educational, helpful, thought-provoking, or worth giving to others. If you pick up a copy of The Digital Metrics Field Guide, I hope it is that way for you.