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Do the math: Earned media measurement is a reality

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In this era of data-driven campaigns, earned media measurement continues to be a challenge for PR firms. Compared with paid media, which provides insight on how digital ads impact revenue, as well as definitive information about audience reach, earned media’s metrics are often lacking or vague.

Earned media’s difficulty in delivering metrics lies in the nature of the beast itself. When the communicator builds a campaign – with the goal of driving end-consumer behavior that generates business impact – that message must travel an indirect path to the consumer, through an influencer, for example.



Because of that indirect path, it has been impossible to track the downstream impact. Standard tracking capabilities don’t scale, forcing the communicator to rely on vanity metrics, such as potential reach, impressions, and content performance to show how earned media drives brand awareness and exposure for the company.

Cision Impact, which applies ad-tech data, link-less tracking measurement, and programmatic approaches to earned media, can change that dynamic. Brands are now able to attribute business value for earned media campaigns.

The technology builds on the Cision Communications Cloud, an integrated platform that provides an effective way to identify key influencers, compose and distribute content, and then measure its effectiveness.

The team responsible for cracking the earned media attribution code lives within the Cision Innovation Center, led by chief data officer David Barker. Leveraging their collective knowledge about how paid media advertising works, the team developed Cision ID, proprietary tracking technology that tags earned media content. The AdTech-like tracking capability gives communication professionals the ability to track a single press release or influencer blog post view all the way through to a lead or shopping cart conversion.

Also, Cision ID, in partnership with an ecosystem of the industry’s leading data and audience management providers, allows the comms professional to understand who they’re reaching with their campaign. These insights can also extend into paid and owned channels for integrated messaging and targeting.

To ensure the communications pro is able to act on the insights gathered, Cision Impact Reports bring together data points on validated reach, engagement, demographics, as well as conversion data for earned media campaigns, into easy to digest reports.


Cision Impact Standard Reports — Aggregate View (PRNewsfoto/Cision)


Data points include:

Reach – True reach (vs. potential reach/circulation) such as views, unique visitors, repeat visitors.

Engagement – Specific actions taken by the end user, including click throughs, image views, video plays, document opens/downloads, and audio plays.

Audience Insights – Understand who is consuming the content with demographics (B2C) and firmographics (B2B).

Conversion – Measure downstream activity and business impact through client site sessions and page views, as well as with a shopping cart, revenue, and lead generation.

“The difficult and complex part of earned media is that the ecosystem is in flux, with an ever-growing list of mediums and channels to reach consumers. Not only is it difficult to understand how to leverage all these channels, but also before Cision Impact, brands were unable to measure the downstream impact of earned media,” says Kevin Akeroyd, Cision CEO. “Instead, brands relied on engagement, reach, share of voice, and sentiment metrics that are valuable and good to have, but are not directly tied to business outcomes and do not deliver true attribution. Cision Impact is finally giving communicators the ability to accurately reach their targeted audiences and measure conversions.”


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