IAB devises ways of benchmarking social media work

The Internet Advertising Bureau has launched a framework for measuring social media in an attempt to help brands stop wasting marketing budgets on unsystematic activity and measurement.

The IAB Social Media Council said that the lack of case studies and standardisation of measurement metrics in social media meant that brands and agencies were finding it impossible to benchmark activity.

The report centres on three steps dubbed I, A and B. It states that brands first need to declare their intent (I) by establishing objectives.

It then suggests they define core metrics by working out if the campaign will seek to drive one of four As: awareness; appreciation, such as engagement; action, such as purchase; or advocacy – word of mouth. The final step in the framework is benchmarking (B) the move towards establishing standards.

Craig Tuck, group head of sales for MySpace owner Fox Interactive Media UK and IAB Social Media Council member, said standardisation was important because all the networks, agencies and brands were measuring activity differently.

“Each brand and platform is very different and, as such, uses its own measurements,” said Tuck.

“We are a generation away from removing the social media insecurities. Though some marketers understand it, the next generation will all understand that everyone online is on social sites. At the moment, the problem is finding a common language and brands not wanting to take risks.”

The IAB has also suggested established measurement models such as cost per impression (CPI), cost per engagement (CPE), cost per lead (CPL) and cost per referral (CPR) for the different activities, in order to help brands compare the effectiveness of social media activity to other channels and prove its financial worth.

Richard Pentin, group planning director at digital agency TMW and IAB Social Media Council member, said that the industry was in need of standardisation but introducing such known financial metrics is key to growing investment and spend.

“We were keen to introduce financial metrics into this as everyone has reported on more soft metrics around engagement, which is fine as it is a fundamental part of social media, but at board level the stats need to be harder and so financial measurement is essential,” said Pentin.

Ted Hunt, digital manager at drinks brand Innocent Drinks, said though there was a need to have a standard measure, it takes investment and resources, which some brands lack.

“The main problem is that to put real value on measurement you need to do it manually as most automated services are not accurate enough, people need to be involved to establish the real meaning of the results,” said Hunt.

“This is the case for day-to-day activity, though if you are spending a lot on a particular social media campaign, it would be essential to justify that spend,” he explained.

For more information about the framework, see the IAB social media council blog.

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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