Six Common Media Measurement Metrics

LexisNexis NewsdeskMedia IntelligenceLexisNexis BIS

Typically PR professionals love the art of storytelling. It’s their job to lend a powerful voice to their client’s brand. A good PR professional would lend elegance, trust, and credibility to their client’s brand and steer them away from controversies, unrehearsed statements and ensure that all in the company speak as one.

While on the basic level these are the elements of a PR professional’s job description, it is also true that today they need to examine data sets and analyse esoteric metrics of their client’s brand. That’s because the bulk of the company’s brand image needs to be managed online.

Many shy away from media monitoring metrics and do not want to learn anything about them but once you go past the intimidation of data and mathematics, you will see patterns that go beyond numbers. Common media measurement metrics are easy to understand, if even if you abhor mathematics.

One easy way to understand these metrics would be to know that each media measurement metric that is being used answers one significant question about your organization’s media coverage. When you understand the question clearly the answer that is given in the data makes sense and it becomes easy to understand and comprehend.

Here let us try and understand all about six common media measurement metrics and figure out what question they are trying to answer.

#1 Volume of Attention

Simply put this means how many stories have appeared in the media for your client’s specific campaign. It could be a launch of a product or a merger or an acquisition. The volume of attention metrics basically tells you whether the initiative that was undertaken by the company to promote their brand has created a splash in the world.

For this metric, the unit of content depends on the type of media. For example, if you are following the campaign on Twitter, it would be the number of tweets that have been posted for it, if it is newspaper then it would be the number of articles and the mentions that the campaign has received.

Media monitoring tools like LexisNexis Newsdesk® you will find features like Social Analytics that would minutely analyze the data for you and present its analysis in a form that is easy to understand and comprehend. While media intelligence tools like LexisNexis can present in-depth media insights, in campaigns that have a high degree of nuances the software might not grasp a few finer points. In such cases, human interference would be required. That said, with machine learning and artificial intelligence being integrated into monitoring platforms, even this degree of human intervention might not be required soon.

#2 Audience Reach

This metric measures the overall coverage of a campaign or an initiative. For example, if your client’s campaign has come as an ad in a newspaper then its circulation is a metric that would be considered. If it is a TV advertisement, then viewership, audience demographics can be considered. To get a sense of what the audience reach for a particular campaign truly is, the audience size of the publication/magazine/newspaper/social media user is identified and that figure is summed up with the audience size of all the other publications and outlets. This is how the audience reach is calculated. For example, say if a newspaper with a print circulation of over 20,000 people published your client’s ad and a Twitter user with over 10,000 followers has tweeted this story then your audience reach would be 30,000.

Where audience reach is concerned you will need to know a couple of things outright. The viewership figures for online news content vary from one publication to another. Some use a website’s unique visitors per month as a count for audience reach calculations while others use a website’s daily visitor figures. So far, there is no consensus on what should be the correct count to be used. However, LexisNexis uses the daily viewership figures to compute the audience reach because we believe that it represents the size of the audience realistically.

Yet another thing that one needs to keep in mind is that some PR and media intelligence tools use multipliers while calculating the audience reach for print editions of their campaigns. They do this because there is a sure way to calculate and determine the audience reach when it is in print. For example, if a newspaper or a magazine (where your client’s campaign has appeared) is kept in a dentist’s clinic or the doctor’s office then one newspaper could have been viewed by a huge number of people and there is no way that one can determine the audience reach in this instance. Hence multipliers are used tentatively albeit conservatively to determine this count. That said, with print media dying a slow death, multipliers are becoming irrelevant with each passing day.

#3 Leading Topics

When a popular company or a brand announces the launch of a new product many questions come to the forefront. As a PR professional if you need to know how well the campaign is doing then you will need to know all the nitty-gritty details of what is being discussed at the micro level.

Are the customers happy that a new product is being launched? Are they curious? Have they been waiting for this? Are they criticizing the brand as a whole?

To learn the details of what is being discussed at the micro level you will need track topics. You can track topics that discuss the bigger picture, such as the market value of a product or whether the customers like the new packaging that the brand has implemented recently. Be as specific as possible and narrow down topics that discuss literally everything about your client’s brand or product.

Thankfully with LexisNexis, topics can be tracked in an automated fashion using media monitoring tools and automated keyword searches. PR companies that still haven’t caught up with technology need a human-based analysis where you will need to track these topics ponderously and manually.

There are many benefits and drawbacks to both automated and manual approaches. With the automated approach, speed and scalability are high and it also helps to keep the costs low. There are a few benefits with manual tracking tool. With a human tracking the news and topics, it will be easy to categorize it appropriately as they would be able to understand the context of the topic better a computer program. For e.g., if you are manually tracking a story about bankruptcy, you will know the context of the story even if the keyword ‘financial performance’ does not appear within.  Manual tracking is often the best solution for topics that are more nuanced. For all that is mundane, with distinct keywords, automated approach saves a lot of time and leaves you free to spend more time on manual search.

A few media monitoring tools use word clouds to track topics. Word clouds are useful to measure specific words or phrases that have appeared within the coverage of a campaign. It is, however, not precise in identifying what’s actually being discussed. Word clouds can be effectively used to filter out the links and news where the client or brand’s name has been discussed and you can begin your analysis from then on. It is also useful because you don’t need to identify ahead of time, the topics that you want to track.

There are many pros and cons in using topic tracking but the bottom line for a PR professional would be that they need to examine the coverage for each leading topic to know whether it is positive or not.

#4 Leading Messages

The one thing that a PR professional really needs to keep an eye on is the criticism of their client. They also need to track the praise of one’s client but criticism really needs to be addressed first and fast. Leading message tracking tracks the number of times your brand/client has been praised or criticized across media coverage. Here too as with topics, leading messages can be defined broadly or you can narrow it down to capture a specific thought.

There are many nuances to leading messages. For e.g. a customer might complain about a bank customer service putting you on hold for a very long time. But the word ‘bad customer service’ might not appear in her message. Yet that’s exactly what she is implying.

Here is another example. A software company might be posting its record of profits for the financial year and yet it may not really use the phrasing ‘performing well financially’ though that’s the implication.

Automated analytics for message tracking might not work effectively. We at LexisNexis India believe that this is best suited for human analysis where a trained analyst examines the stories individually and determines the context.

#5 Overall Sentiment

Overall sentiment is a metric where we determine whether a story is positive or negative for the client/brand in question. It is a difficult metric to measure accurately. For one thing, the context of the story needs to be understood and the sentiment that evokes needs to be analyzed before this metric can be put down.

When software programs are deployed to understand the overall sentiment things happen differently. Automated sentiment analysis analyzes the words and their connotations carefully. For example, the word ‘sick’ might be a positive term for a video game client but it’s most definitely a negative one if the client belongs to the food industry. Sometimes systems might simple depend only on connotation and might forgo the context that will result in misinterpreting the sentiment.

Here again, we believe that an automated analysis ought to be replaced by a human. Despite the integration of machine learning, artificial intelligence we have still not progressed to a level where sentiments can be understood by programs but the possibility still hangs out there.

#6 Engagement

This is fairly a straightforward metric analyzed to see how much engagement a post or a campaign has generated. While it is easy to measure the engagement levels of a social media post it is tough to do the same for traditional media. Though there are a few ways and means to do the same, the results are often debatable. For online social media, engagement can be tracked through likes, shares and comments.

These six metrics are traditionally supposed to answer questions about your client’s brand value. However individually they can’t answer the question as to whether you are doing the right things for the brand/client and achieve the right results. That’s a subject for another blog though.