Modern metrics: Digital communication drives new measurement methods

January 29, 2013

As digital communication transforms our information consumption habits, technology and research providers are introducing new methods for measuring message distribution and engagement.

Nielsen and Twitter recently announced the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating to address the rise of multi-screening — audiences integrating mobile devices or computers into their television habits.

The rating will debut in the United States during the fall  TV season, providing what Nielsen calls the “first-ever measurement of the total audience for social TV activity,” which includes people participating in social conversations about airing programs and people exposed to those conversations.

The new measurement will help advertisers monitor which networks and programs generate the most social activity so that they can design interactive campaigns or examine how to increase engagement.

PR practitioners might use this information to target and time messages for viewers with desired demographics. News, sports and daytime talk genres come to mind.

Modernized metrics do not apply only to  Twitter. Facebook offers its official Facebook Insights.  Amazon has Kindle-related statistics for authors.  And musicians along with their publicists likely gauge real-time iTunes sales charts.

This progression makes sense. Social networks have transformed how people communicate today, requiring new types of analysis. Here are some additional approaches that technologies and deep thinkers are applying.


Pinterest, the image-based social network, generates more than 23 million unique visitors and more than 1.7 billion page views monthly, making it desirable for consumer-focused messengers to measure.

Several free tools tailored to the site have emerged, including Pinalytics, which integrates with Google Analytics to determine how many people visit a site from Pinterest and what pages they pinned. Users can search by keyword, topic or category. People can identify the original source of content created, as well as the number of repins, user Likes and comments.  The data reveals which topics and images gain traction on Pinterest.

Pitch ROI and Issue DNA

Ubiquity Public Relations, a Phoenix-based commuications firm, designed its own pitch management application named Iris to help staffers pitch smarter instead of harder. Iris tracks “Pitch ROI” per campaign and client, as well as the agency’s effectiveness for clients overall. The Ubiquity team knows which members are pitching what reporters, what they are pitching and the outcomes of all related communications. They can use this information to guide adjustments. Ubiquity has blossomed Iris into a tool that other firms can now use to track campaigns.

The Stakeholder Company takes PR analytics even further, providing clients including Nokia and HP with “Issue DNA,” data mapping that tracks online conversation patterns to identify the most influential people commenting about them.

TSC data engine can identify academics, government organizations and industry activists in addition to more common social media influencers.  These insights allow them to answer questions for clients such as,  “who drove the most iPad launch influence?” and  “which organizations have the most influence over food pricing?”

Another metric that practitioners can use is Google Author Rankings, which links journalists’ Google+ profiles to search results.  This SEO data helps identify journalists with significant authority in specific industries. Placing a story with one of these writers is, in turn, a result carrying top-rank validation.

That’s the kind of conclusion that we all want to measure, no matter what the method is.

Ryan Zuk, APR

Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at

Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com


Kristin Jones says:

Lots of good info here. Since there currently isn’t a single, fool-proof tool to use across the board to measure the impact of our social media efforts, it is important to find a combination of tools to help us understand social's impact. Thanks for sharing.

Feb. 22, 2013

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