Impressions are a measure of how many eyeballs, or people, see an ad or web page. This measure is one baby step away from a newspaper circulation number or the estimate of how many unicorns have pet kitties. In a Harvard Business Review blog post, the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer of the Coca-Cola Company says it’s time to count expressions made by customers rather than just impressions.
Joe Tripodi would disagree with my unicorn comment. “… ‘Consumer impressions’ will remain the backbone of our measurement because it is the metric universally used to compare audiences across nearly all types of media. But impressions only tell advertisers the raw size of the audience.”
There is value in the raw size of the audience, but when there were just newspapers, independent circulation numbers were the standard. Much of the value that is gained by using the “eyeballs” metric across platforms may be lost in how people interact with content.
“By definition, impressions are passive. They give us no real sense of engagement, and consumer engagement with our brands is ultimately what we’re striving to achieve.” This is where expressions come in: It’s a catchy way of saying your eyeballs are great, but your measureable attention is much more valuable, and he is absolutely right. The more you choose to engage with a business, the less likely you will jump to a competitor. The more the brand knows you’re there, the less likely they will give you a reason to jump.
“To us, an expression is any level of engagement with our brand content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a “like,” uploading a photo or video or passing content onto their networks. We’re measuring those expressions and applying what we learn to global brand activations and those created at the local level by our 2,700 marketers around the world.”
There are several great takeaways from this:
“Accept that consumers can generate more messages than you ever could.” Dan Schwabbel was right in saying if you don’t own your brand, someone else will. The object becomes to try and influence the messages. Tripodi’s team estimates that there were 146 million YouTube views in Coca-Cola related content. They only created 26 million worth. That means other people are pretty effective at “wanting to teach the world to sing.”
“Develop content that is ‘Liquid and Linked.’ Liquid content is creative work that is so compelling, authentic and culturally relevant that it can flow through any medium.” An example of this is the FIFA 2010 World Cup Visual Identity System which put commercials into play in more than 160 countries with a common theme of celebration on one common digital platform.
“Accept that you don’t own your brands; your consumers do.” Yes, this is still a tough one for the old-timers to cope with, but face it: Your parents owned the brand of the local stores. Word of mouth ruled then and it rules now. Period.
“Speak up to set the record straight, but give your fans a chance to do so first.” If you take the time to build advocates of your brand by people who really love your brand, they will police your brand. An attack on you is an attack on them. Bad stuff ahead? Let your advocates get the first word in, and you may find you don’t even have to do it.
Tripodi cites this example: “When our Facebook site was targeted by an activist group whose members posted negative messages, our fans responded with messages of support for our company, and our fans challenged the use of the community for activist purposes.”
No unicorns with pet kitty cats. You don’t need them with a base of advocates, who are certainly worth your attention.