AVE might be dead or dying, but there is a fundamental problem for Australian PRs in evaluating campaigns. The media industry has failed to determine a single, standardised way to measure their audiences.
Thank goodness the days of getting the ruler out each month to measure column inches of are over, but the challenge of how to measure the success of a campaign has gotten far more difficult over recent years as the channels we’ve used to communicate have evolved.
Over the past few years most major publishers pulled out of the AMMA circulation audit in favour of audits by Nielsen covering digital audiences and the EMMA ratings covering a combination of print and digital readership. And to complicate it further, Fairfax recently pulled out of the Nielsen surveys, and EMMA covers only a fraction of the entire print and digital media market.
And then you have the social media channels with their less-than-transparent figures.
Ironically, in an age where audiences have never been so measurable, it’s almost impossible to get a standard definition of how to measure them. So what is a PR professional to do?
In talking to Telum’s clients and to media executives around Australia, the best advice is to make sure your campaign appears in all the places your audience are going to be engaging with media, without being obsessed over the size of the audience. As long as it’s the right audience. Your targets are undoubtedly consuming traditional, online, social, trade, customer communications, and other sources, all in the course of a single day. Once you have determined where the audience is and you’ve put yourself in front of them via these channels, the actual numbers become somewhat meaningless. Campaign reports that purport that more than 75 million Australians have seen your key messages are questionable at best.
Convincing clients or internal stakeholders to concentrate on measuring the effectiveness of messages and outcomes, rather than simply the number of supposed eyeballs on a piece of coverage or communications is the way to go. Especially until publishers can work together to create a standard way to measure their audiences.
David Skapinker, Region Head (Australia and New Zealand), Telum Media