Advertising Effectiveness Versus Online Media Coverage: the Evidence Part 2
In part 1 of this series looking at the impact of online media coverage we considered the strong relationship between online media coverage, Google searches and sales for car brands in the UK. This included Tesla, a brand which has never advertised but whose searches and sales fall very much within the values predicted by online media coverage.
Our own research, reinforced by work for our clients has led Metricomm to the indisputable conclusion that online media coverage is far more powerful than has previously been realised; and, as a result, that when tracking advertising effectiveness the impact of online media coverage must always be taken into account.
Metricomm is challenging the advertising industry to include the impact of online media coverage when making claims about advertising’s effectiveness.
In part 2 of the series we are looking at the relationship between online media coverage, Google searches and sales for UK supermarkets. We will also consider why Metricomm’s approach is now revealing insights – with massive consequences for advertising and marketing – that have remained hidden for so long.
Figure 1 shows the results of Metricomm’s analysis carried out for audiences generated by online media coverage versus UK Google searches for UK supermarkets from January, 2015, to May, 2022. Just as with car brands in part 1 of this series, there is a strong relationship, with a correlation coefficient of 0.81 at a significance level of 99.87%.
Again, just as we did with cars in part 1, we can also look at the relationship between online media coverage for UK supermarkets and sales in the form of market share, shown in figure 2. Here the correlation coefficient is 0.82 at a significance level of 99.66%. These results clearly reflect what we saw with UK car brands, which is a very strong relationship between the audiences generated by online media coverage and both consideration – in the form of Google searches – and sales in the form of market share, for UK supermarkets.
We are not remotely surprised by these results. We see such relationships on a regular basis, both across entire sectors and also with individual brands, with remarkably strong relationships between online media coverage, Google searches and sales. But an obvious and understandable question this raises is: if these relationships are so strong, why are they only coming to light now?
There is a remarkably simple answer to this question. It all boils down to how PR – and the PR evaluation industry – continues to measure ‘success’ by volume of media coverage. While common sense might suggest increased coverage will increase effectiveness, in the real world this is not the case. What really matters is the audience that media coverage generates.
By focusing on audiences generated by online media coverage, Metricomm has uncovered insights that otherwise remain hidden. For instance, Metricomm’s client work and research have revealed that effectiveness is virtually always driven by the Pareto Effect. More commonly known as the ‘80/20’ rule this states that 80% of outcomes are driven by just 20% of causes.
In simple terms this means that measuring volume of coverage is almost always going to provide inaccurate results, which can lead to very poor and even incorrect decision-making. Despite this, evaluation companies still boast about the number of sources they analyse, taking no account of the fact that even avid readers and viewers only scratch the surface of news coverage.
Fig 1. Share of UK Google searches for supermarkets versus share of audience generated by online media coverage between 2015 and 2022
Metricomm takes a new and completely different approach, which dramatically improves the accuracy of PR measurement. First, we use a search-based system to determine the media most likely to have been seen by an audience; and, second, we use a proprietary algorithm developed and rigorously tested to determine the size of audience most likely to have engaged with the coverage.
The resulting audience numbers are much lower than those typically used by the PR industry, but, crucially, they are also accurate. As well as enabling us to identify the real effectiveness of media coverage, this means we can also highlight the 20% of media most likely to be generating the vast majority of business outcomes resulting from it.
Fig 2. Share of sales for UK supermarkets versus share of audience generated by online media coverage between 2015 and 2022
Finally, it is also worth emphasising that Metricomm’s analysis avoids any problems with privacy. This matters because PR attribution services using Adtech tracking devices are highly exposed to rapidly growing privacy software and wide open to accusations of snooping.
In parts 1 and 2 of this series we have looked at the impact of online media coverage across entire sectors. In part 3 we will be looking at individual brands to see if the same principles apply.