Is Your Marketing Starting A Conversation?

It used to be that the effectiveness of your advertising could be measured based on simple metrics, like reach and frequency, response rates, brand-lift, and/or simply sales-lift attribution. Media mix models plugged in data for TV GRP’s, print circulation, and online ad impressions to help determine if your media partners delivered and what you think you paid for.

But we are living in an emerging social media world of  comments, shares and likes. My own site generates over 120,000 article comments per month on articles that are often shared virally to millions of new readers every week. It is crucial  understand if and how your marketing fits into these “conversations," but most media mix models are not designed to capture these "soft" metrics and therefore only reflect a (decreasing) portion of your true media exposure.  

Each marketing effort must be evaluated using a combination of paid, owned and earned media values. What does this mean for the new age of media planning? 



There is a new emphasis being placed on “influence” -- or the likelihood of your marketing message to organically spread out from the audience you paid to reach to the audiences that they influence. Just like great content is socialized, so can great marketing can be socialized. But since consumers are more guarded against marketing messages, they need to be created and delivered in an authentic, relevant manner -- and drive consumer value. 

The most successful are becoming adept publishers of information and content, tapping into the more trusted nature of valuable content vs. advertising copy lines.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  There are some big hurdles to making this work:

Product manufacturers are not, by nature, content developers. Sure, there’s a history of legendary brand marketers like P&G, which were essentially in the television production business--not literally but they underwrote entire seasons. But creating great content is a very distinct skill-set; one that a scarce few can claim. Also, product manufacturer sites are typically not content destinations for consumers. 

Yes, most brands have Web sites, and many of them are extremely robust. But the volume of traffic reaching those sites is miniscule compared to the enormous traffic generated by the online publishing giants and the exposure of a successful bit of content thanks to social media.

Savvy marketers have begun to partner strategically with publishers that can complement them in these critical areas of content development and distribution.  By collaborating with organizations possessing the resources to integrate brand content with editorial, the marketer can simultaneously increase the quality of their content while gaining distribution to a large, established audience. 

And by partnering with publishers of socialized content specifically, the brand can enjoy the benefits of socialized marketing, among them:

1. Scale: Earned media can dramatically increase the reach of your marketing efforts.  In some cases, peer-to-peer sharing and distribution across social networks can deliver more impressions than the paid media plan, which are often times just as targeted.

2. Economics: If you are working with a content publisher, vs. paying a social platform for distribution, this sharing is essentially free. Down comes your effective CPM, up goes your ROI.

3. Effectiveness: Numerous studies show that marketing messages which are received from family and friends - particularly content marketing - breaks through the clutter and is considerably more effective.

4. Inevitability: Your marketing can, and probably will, go viral to some extent.  So plan for it, measure it, optimize against it.

Today’s marketer is planning “influential” media. By selecting partners whose audiences are demonstrated to share, recommend, and socialize online media, you are planning for == and can therefore measure and optimize for -- one of the most powerful media opportunities today.

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