MarComedy: Don’t make me laugh

For what tickles my fancy in media, communications and life in general.

The Measure Of The Media

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During a recent meeting with the head of one of Canada’s largest media buying agencies, the discussion turned to the topic of media measurement. We noted that the work of media agencies is part art and part science. The art is the skill of matching media with the advertiser and its brand(s) & the science is the quantitative research that now goes into understanding the audience that the media will reach. Greater attention is being paid to demographics and psychographics.

The media landscape is being littered with new providers and channels (just look at the social media explosion as one example). The Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC) exists to “advance the effectiveness of media advertising in Canada.” The CMDC publishes an annual handbook (it’s packaged with Marketing) and provides a snapshot of media audiences and reach. It’s a good package, but is really more for marketers to understand the media landscape rather than a detailed research tool for the industry. What is does accomplish is to give marketers and media agencies a benchmark for accountability.

The advertising and public relations industries are under increasing pressure to be accountable for their activities – to demonstrate how they are contributing to a company’s bottom line. The Public Relations industry has long been able to side-step these concerns through measurement like media equivalency (determining how much a news story would be worth if it were advertising space) and by referring to soft data like reputation and image which is difficult to quantify. Plus most marketers, and certainly the finance folks that give them their budgets, don’t understand exactly what PR people do. But ad equivalency is inelegant at best and inaccurate at worst (it doesn’t, for example, take into account the tone of an article) and deferring to qualitative measures like reputation and awareness are really a cop-out with today’s technology.

Thankfully, and I’m sure in no small part due to the pressure business managers were putting on marketers and these marketers were putting on their agencies, the PR community has responded to this issue. The Canadian Public Relations Society and International Association of Business Communicators have partnered with industry practioners and a few companies that do this kind of thing, to develop a media relations measurement tool. There’s been a lot of buzz about this in the industry (the PR links on the side will take to blogs where there’s been much discussion on the subject). I haven’t tested this tool, but the overall response seems positive. Though discussions with industry people suggest they acknowledge there are limitations. But it’s a step in the right direction and should be applauded. Now the art of PR can have its own scientific revolution.

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

June 14, 2006 at 6:39 pm

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