I can’t believe I’m going to say this out-loud. Let me be clear I’m not completely convinced of this idea but it hasn’t stopped circulating around my head since it first occurred to me so I thought I’d throw it out there.
Is there a case to be made for measuring the ad equivalency of online media coverage?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, ad equivalency is a public relations industry metric that looks at the size (column inches or running time depending on the media) of a mention in the press and calculates what the company being mentioned would have had to pay for advertising of that size in that outlet. So if a company gets a two column inch mention in The New York Times it’s supposed to be worth $X since that’s what an ad of that size in the NYT would have cost. It’s not a perfect metric but it’s common one that PR professionals have used for a long time because, unlike advertising, there’s little in the way of direct monetary ROI they can point to. So it’s basically a way of saying “I’m justifying my salary here because this story I got placed would have cost you $15,000 if you had bought that much space as an ad.”
I started thinking along these lines after reading all the coverage, like this Variety story, about the push for three-screen measurement of who’s watching movies, TV shows and other content across TV, mobile and online platforms.
As an example of what I’m thinking about, look at Jenni Miller’s post on Cinematical about watching Twilight twice and liking it. It’s an eight paragraph story that, if I’m running Summit’s publicity efforts, I’m loving right now. If that publicist wanted to he or she could look at the ad rates for Cinematical and figure out how much a similar ad buy would be on the site, using that number to figure out how much the story is “worth” to Summit.
As I said, ad equivalency is not a perfect metric and you’ll find as many people who want to kill it as you will people to defend it. And there might already be a system in place to do just that, but if there is I haven’t heard about it. But as online media matures and advertising pervades most all the large-scale sites on which publicists are trying to score coverage it’s one that I can see being used by those making the case for reaching out to online media outlets.
I’m going to go swallow my own tongue now.