Via a Tweet from Amanda Chapel, we learn that PRSA is looking to “establish industry wide measurement standards.”
This is needed, but it’s going to be tough to get agreement on standards. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. This is, after all, an industry that has long felt impressions were valuable metrics (they really aren’t). The best definition yet that I’ve seen describing impressions was in a Media Bullseye post by Mark Story. For those pressed for time and don’t want to click over, here’s his analogy:
The best analogy that I can leave you with is window-shopping vs. buying. Can you imagine this conversation?
Retail store boss: Yo – Schmendrick! How many of those dresses in the display window did you sell today?
Retail store flunkie: We didn’t sell any, boss, but the great news is that 547 people walked past, saw it and MAY have considered purchasing the dress!
Sound ridiculous? The equivalent of this happens every day in thousands of companies when touching on media measurement.
He’s right. And I think one of the reasons that this sort of thing gets trotted out as a “measurement” is that a fair number of PR people (yours truly included) got involved in PR thinking we wouldn’t have to touch math. I am math-phobic, and even I realize the logic behind impressions as a metric is full of holes you could drive a truck through.
(Total sidebar: And you know what’s worse? I’m seeing the same sort of thinking getting applied to Twitter now–“@somebody tweeted about our issue. @somebody has 4,786 followers. Therefore, our issue had Twitter reach of at least 4,786.” Throw in the same math/logic with a few retweets, and what do you have? Not much, really. Just speculation on what may be the potential reach for a message, just like impressions are speculation on how many people might have read an article. Solid.)
I find it interesting that the power point deck includes this comment “[…] shift the conversation away from […] social media activity,” and lumps it in with the same disgrace that is “ad value equivalency.” I don’t really know what to make of this. Are they implying that social media is as useless as ad value equivalency? Or that it’s as hard to measure the impact? I’d disagree on both counts–it’s not useless (but it won’t save you), and if a social media plan has been designed and thought through, it certainly can be measured.
There are some interesting items in the PP slides, but nothing that I thought was particularly innovative, but you need to start somewhere.
Have thoughts? Pop on over to their blog and let PRSA know.