Getting the Measure of Earned Media Value

The paid media landscape is a minefield, with ad fraud issues plaguing a less-than-transparent marketplace, and big brands going so far as halting spend to get some clarity. In this bot-plagued world, brand safety has only grown as a concern. At the same time, upstart challenger brands know that digital advertising isn’t even the best way to engage consumers and drive brand discovery, and have embraced earned media marketing to build their brands.

With marketers demanding more accountability from their paid media campaigns, it’s important to focus on using new tools and technology to bring that same measurability to earned media. Companies like ours work with brands to get an unprecedented level of insight into the performance of their visual content on social media networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook and across the web. The proposition is simple: Consumers engage with brand content on social media networks like never before, therefore when you understand those interactions and their value you can take action on them. If you don’t, you can’t, and you face the same situation as a marketer who doesn’t know what they’re getting in exchange for their digital ad spend.

When a PR, social media or digital marketing manager is able to attribute real metrics to their earned media efforts, the CMO then has a clear view of their contribution in the marketing mix.

Just like advertising, social media engagement must be measured on impressions and actions taken. Calculating an earned media value (EMV) for a brand’s content helps determine how much past interactions and engagement were worth to a brand: what it would have cost to reach those consumers with paid media. When a PR, social media or digital marketing manager is able to attribute real metrics to their earned media efforts, the CMO then has a clear view of their contribution in the marketing mix.

For earned media value it’s all about “the more you know” and it makes no sense for any marketer to have a wealth of information about their other marketing channels but to lack the analytics to effectively measure their influencer marketing or social media programs. Metrics like these can make a difference and hold everyone accountable as marketers make transparency and performance demands of their partners and vendors.

However, it’s critical that marketers work with the right partners to get the full picture of their earned media value. Our proprietary technology is not focused simply on calculating the value of a brand’s post on Instagram, for example, but on the lifetime value of that content: wherever it gets reposted and shared, across social networks and the web.

Brand-created, user-generated and influencer-shared posts are nearly always reposted, re-embedded and shared, moving from Facebook to Twitter, then to Instagram and Pinterest, and so on. Each platform’s dashboard provides very limited insights and analytics, and the systems are siloed, giving a limited view of content performance.

The methodology we suggest for calculating EMV is quite simple and logical:

  • We recommend a CPM for the different social media networks your content appears on and for the various audiences you want to reach;
  • You need to calculate the EMV for each piece of content about your brand (not just images that include a logo), by the brand, influencers or users;
  • Your partner helps you obtain the actual impression numbers as measured by the social networks;
  • With proprietary AI algorithms, software like ours estimates impression numbers for all user-generated content about your brand, all influencer-generated content, and gives you the same analyses for all of your competitors;
  • Your platform should help you understand how all those likes, follows and shares result in actual reach and financial value.

With digital advertising less reliable for building awareness, driving discovery and shepherding consumers through the purchase pathway, earned media is a more attractive option. Savvy marketers who embrace clarity, insight and analytics to guide that shift will gain more impactful and efficient engagement. However, as has been said, “what gets measured, gets managed,” and without those optics they could be heading for an earned media minefield.

Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan Gardner

Director of Marketing at ShareIQ
Jonathan Gardner is a veteran marketing and communications executive and director of marketing at ShareIQ, the visual content performance platform for brands. Follow him on Twitter @thejongardner.
Jonathan Gardner

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