There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to content measurement

Brands might say: “How many likes did it get?”

Cate Sevilla, Managing Editor at Buzzfeed UK, speaks about Buzzfeed’s main objective being to get people to react to their stories emotionally (laugh, cry, be outraged), and then be prompted by those feelings to share them.

“Or, to feel informed and ‘in the know’ by a story and want to show off on social just how smart/savvy they are. Our currency is sharing, which then leads to uniqueness. But the value and effectiveness is measured differently for different kinds of stories — for example, hard news stories very rarely perform the same as ‘social’ news stories (most often described as ‘viral news’), so we measure more on the quality and speed of reporting, exclusives/scoops, and then we look at shares and hits. Also, long form pieces and essays share differently, so they’re measured on a different scale.”

She adds that from a publisher’s perspective on the impact of these shares, it’s all about being targeted. “We focus on UK views, and particularly when we’re doing a quite niche piece on, for example, what’s it’s like to grow up in a small village in Scotland — if that gets 60,000 shares and they’re purely UK views, that’s a big win for us, as it means it’s ‘gone viral’ in the area that we’re writing about.”

What this points to is a flexible approach. Diffe­rent types of content intended to do diffe­rent things should be measured diffe­rently, which starts to shape a rationale for why big, blockbuster ‘hero’ content should have a mainstream audience, whereas more spe­cific, passion point, or product content might be better placed with niche publishers.

Another way of looking at this means returning to the idea of ‘personalisation at scale.’ Twitter’s Paul McCrudden is seeing more and more studies proving the platform’s effectiveness for brands on sales using Market Mix Modeling (MMM) and Offline Sales Impact (OSI) studies. While this is often a very involved process, is does prove the value of using a ‘mainstream’ channel but a targeted approach, to tick both boxes.

Their most recent example (from the film industry) showed that an estimated 18% of UK ticket sales over a three-year period could be attributed to what was being published on Twitter. Working with MarketShare, they were able to view the efficiency of tweets sent by film fans about movies and Twitter advertising run by film studios and marketers.

In practice though, getting true impact from ‘personalisation at scale’ relies on paid investment, as McCrudden outlines: “The rea­lity for brands is that the most effective social publi­shing often requires media spend (such as on Twitter, Facebook). But that means a far greater chance of getting the right people engaging with your content.”

The decision to invest in deeper MMM measure­ment was informed by other recent Twitter research by Research Now which found that three in five (61%) said Twitter directly influenced their decision to see a film. This shows that a ‘lighter touch’ polling approach can often be incredibly useful in informing investment.

What this leads to is more meaningful content, more meaningful metrics, with brand advertising changing to focus on meaningful and useful content that provides something to the end user, rather than a call to action to follow, like, or buy.

Payne added that measurement metrics also need to change from looking at a YouTube view count, the cheapest traffic-driving clicks, or the most shares, to looking at video view duration, time spent with a branded article, percentage of the page scrolled through.

This will allow brands/agencies to actually get a good gauge of how their audiences are inter­acting with content, but only when a brand is fully dedicated to building content that matters.

“There can be no halfway house here where a brand decides to create content for the sake of it, but still relies on more traditional metrics to measure success. For example, a listicle from a kids brand on “The best ways to entertain your kids this summer” will inevitably be unsuccessful if the brand is looking at direct sales as a metric of success.”

Tracking pixels placed within content also allows agencies or brands to follow audien­ces around the web to see how they interact with the brand post-consumption (such as purchasing a product, or page views).

Essentially, as the way brands interact with their audiences in terms of content evolves, so should the way they need to measure that interaction.

How we can be better at dealing with this

· Be really specific with desired outcomes.

· Select fewer KPIs that will truly have an impact, rather than measuring anything and everything.

· Use what we know: there are now data consultants and analysts in the building. Their job is to help you shape an app­roach to measurement, explore numbers and find trends. Go find them and get them to share what they know.

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