Las Vegas Or Park City?

I attended the Social Ad Summit this week in the heart of Tribeca (at the fabulous Tribeca Rooftop, with great views of the city -- highly recommended), where an excellent question was raised by Seth Goldstein: "Where will we be meeting in five years? Will we be in Vegas or in Park City?" I love both cities and they are both great venues -- but the first one caters to a larger audience, the second to a smaller. The question got at the heart of the matter on defining how to measure social media. The cost-per-click model unlocked search and turned pay-per-click into a multibillion dollar business that scaled - so how can we do the same for social media? What will be the equivalent of our "SES" that we all must attend twice per year?

The analogy of finding a meeting place hits home because it points to the question of how we are going to minimize the high-touch analysis model that encompasses social media today into something automated and data-driven - and more importantly, agreed-upon across the industry.



I have written in this column before about "listening" and "transparency" in the evaluation of social media. Right now the assessment of social media campaigns is both a quantitative and qualitative analysis practice. But in order to unlock the dollars in brand advertising and reel in those campaigns that will be $100K, $500K, and $1M spends in social media, metrics must enable the advertising transactions to scale from low - to high-volume activity in a more automated fashion. We all know that the metrics don't work that way right now. So where do we go from here?

I don't have the answer on how we are going to get there, but I can tell you that the heat of the discussion is building. My prediction is that the unlocking of the treasure chest will happen in stages; it won't be the explosion that we all secretly pray for. First we have to get beyond the "engagement" discussion. Every panel I sit on and almost every conference that I attend continues to discuss that word. What does it mean? Is there a mathematical equation that defines it? I think that we are going to see the engagement metric bifurcate into a relevant metric per each medium. Video engagement is going to be calculated and weighed differently than social application engagement, for example. As these metrics begin to evolve and standardize with a CPx value associated with them, the models will start to scale so that self-serve advertising, ad networks and remnant solutions can plug and play.

The metrics will not change the need for listening in social media. You will always have marketers and analysts needing to look at user-generated content associated with campaigns, but the metrics will help automate the buying and selling of the space.

Are you engaged in this conversation? Sick of hearing about it? Feeling the pain of how to justify your social media spend? Or trying to sell social media? Where should we take the discussion from here? I would like to hear what you have to say -- either online via the comments on this article, or in email. Get social!

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