Wanted: Measurement That's as Elastic as the Web

Here's a Blended Model That Gives Marketers Some Flexibility

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The art and science of influence measurement is a debate for the ages. However, as the recent demise of the page view revealed, these days trying to figure out how many you're reaching and who they are is more complicated than ever. (The irony is that media overall is far more addressable.)

Let's take blogs, for example. The traditional model for measuring the authority of a blogger is in-bound links. Tally them up and you can tell who is influential and who isn't. The methodology was good when blogs were where all the action was. These days, though, it's largely irrelevant.
Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.

The reason the metric doesn't hold any more is that the center of gravity has shifted. Many online influencers today participate in a number of social networks, all at the same time. On the surface these communities don't appear to be as influential as blogs, but upon closer look some, in fact, are.

Take Twitter, a small example. Lots of people who are on the mobile social network don't write blogs and vice versa. Still, it's powerful. Thousands of people track their friends in real time. Further, it's a hangout for journalists and the site is incredibly well optimized for search.

When it comes to Twitter, link authority or page views don't tell the story. However, if your audience is hanging out there, then it needs to be weighted accordingly. The same applies to Facebook, Gather, Digg or any other participatory site.

With this in mind, our firm has been thinking about how as an industry we can collaborate with the community to establish a new system for measuring online influence. We're experimenting with a blended approach that can change depending on the weight the marketer is willing to give a particular site. We opened the debate up this week at sixtysecondview.com.

The Edelman model is far from perfect. It's a beta. The key is that the industry needs a measurement standard that can be flexible enough so that it can morph as the channels change, which they will every 18 months. That's no easy task but we're hoping this is the start of a good open discussion toward our goal.
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