30 October 2005

Big-Butt Metrics for the Long-Tail World

Check out Jeff Jarvis's post on audience measurement at BuzzMachine. He makes the point that traditional panel-based and survey-based methods, which ain't perfect even for mass media (see ChasNote 8/29/05), really fall apart when they attempt to count audiences at niche publications:

To get apples-to-apples numbers for those other, older, major media, advertisers rely on allegedly representative samples. But you can never get a sample big enough to deal with the mass of niches.... they’ll never get enough knitters to measure the knitting bloggers. They can measure a few of the biggest bloggers. But that’s not what this medium is all about.

His second (perhaps more important) point is that the blunt instruments of reach and frequency (bare-bones quantity metrics) ignore qualitative aspects of audience behavior that would give advertisers greater insight into suitability of various ad environments:

This isn’t just about collecting and verifying audience and pageview numbers — and demographics and behavior — though all that is important. This is also about collecting data that can be collected only in this medium of the people and gives us unique value: authority, influence, conversation-starting, relationships, loyalty, engagement.

The gang here at Federated Media whole-heartedly supports the effort to build new measurement standards! When I brought up "big butt advertisers" on the panel last month, I meant not only that lots of niche publishers create meaningful mass when they band together; I meant also to remind us online publishers that the big-volume ad spenders (beautiful big butts, in my opinion) will demand that we work on their terms, providing performance metrics that are as much Broadcast 1.0 as they are Web 2.0. What's great about Jeff's recommendation is that it includes enough from the old-school (authority, influence, loyalty and engagement) to build a credible foundation onto which we can add some new fangled blog metrics like "conversation-starting."


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