Media Exposure Values Miss Point of Sponsorship Measurements

It’s now commonplace after major sports events to see a ranking of brands media exposure in terms of value. Front Row Analytics has done well to develop a system that captures broadcast mentions, camera exposure, and various other impressions a brand receives over the course of event, incorporate the length of time of the exposures, presumably number of viewers, and place a generic dollar value of its media time. While admirable, it’s yet another measurement to add to the clutter that adds minimal additional value.

Front Row puts everything calculates what amounts to an adjusted CPM number that incorporates formerly intangible components, such as stadium signage on camera. First, its difficult to value what camera time is worth when broadcasters are talking about something completely irrelevant to the brand, and many viewers may be visually engaged with another screen (mobile, Internet). Second, the entire industry is striving to find a measurement more tangible than CPM, something that links the sponsorship to sales or awareness or something actionable. Creating yet another CPM based measurement essentially extends the current problem many others are trying to combat and solve. Bottom line, the value produced means next to nothing. It’s simply a measure of brand frequency.

Any measurement worth its weight must include context. Without knowing the depths of Front Row’s system I can’t answer how they handle negative impressions. For instance, if broadcasters mention the brand, but in a negative light, or fans are shown mocking a brand or showing a competitor brand, presumably that would diminish that brand’s overall exposure value and should be factored in. Further, new measurement systems have to try to factor in consumer reaction. Did it spur product sampling, did viewers recall the message, did they participate in any call to action, did they spread the word and tell their friends? Those activities are far more valuable than straight non-contextual media exposure, which at this point is antiquated.

On the opposite end of Front Row Analytics, Keller Fay Group is working to measure word of mouth, developing a correlation rating between advertising and word of mouth by researching social network response by customers. CNN and ESPN are among the clients that have employed the firm. Keller Fay captures the essence of where advertising, sponsorship, and media are heading in the next few years. Viral and buzz marketing are the new currency of success, not impressions or media buys.

Part of the problem with online advertising is the lack of a standard measurement, however the glut of attempts to create one exasperates the problem. Nielsen is the defacto standard for TV and its flaws are well accepted. With a chance to redo the system from the start, metric developers should seek to address these flaws and others that emerge in the online game, a glorified CPM metric only feeds the stereotype more.

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