ITL #540   Holistic measurement: Unveiling the true impact of public relations in the post-cookie era

5 months, 3 weeks ago

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Industry leaders are embracing measurement approaches that consider the entirety of the customer journey. By James Crawford.



The evolving landscape of marketing measurement, driven by the demise of third-party cookies and the introduction of Apple's iOS 14.5, has sparked a fundamental shift in how public relations practitioners evaluate their campaigns.

 

As traditional attribution models prove inadequate, industry leaders are embracing holistic measurement approaches that consider the entirety of the customer journey. In this feature I explore the importance of measuring PR efforts in new and expansive ways, the limitations of traditional attribution models, and the emergence of holistic measurement practices empowered by econometric techniques. This paradigm shift can help PR professionals drive more effective strategies and accurately demonstrate the value of their work.

 

The transformational impact of the third-party cookie demise and iOS 14.5

While many in the public relations space are still grappling on how to replace outdated evaluation techniques like advertising value equivalent (AVE), there are also considerable pockets of innovation who embraced digital marketing metrics.

 

The recent shifts in digital advertising, marked by the decline of third-party cookies and the introduction of Apple's iOS 14.5 privacy updates, have disrupted traditional marketing measurement practices and the industry is reeling. These changes have prompted a reassessment of the effectiveness of attribution models that solely focus on first-click or last-click interactions.

 

To understand the true impact of public relations campaigns, PR practitioners must adopt a more holistic measurement approach that encompasses the complete customer journey and considers multiple touchpoints. Now, strategy and evaluation teams pore over multiple data sets and try and piece together the trail of breadcrumbs, much like a detective might need to do to crack a major case. There is no silver bullet!

 

The limitations of traditional attribution models

Attribution models such as first-click and last-click have long been relied upon to measure the success of marketing campaigns. However, they now fall even further short in capturing the multifaceted nature of public relations efforts.

 

First-click attribution disregards subsequent touchpoints that contribute to a customer's decision-making process, leading to an inaccurate assessment of campaign impact. On the other hand, last-click attribution neglects the influence of earlier touchpoints, which often play a critical role in raising awareness and generating interest.

 

Embracing holistic measurement practices

To overcome the limitations of traditional attribution models in this post cookie, post IoS 14.5 world, public relations practitioners are adopting holistic measurement practices where many data sets come together to tell a story.

 

By employing econometric techniques like regression analysis, time series analysis, and marketing mix modelling, PR professionals gain a deeper understanding of the true impact of their campaigns. These methodologies provide valuable insights into the relationship between PR activities and business outcomes while considering various external factors.

 

Regression analysis allows practitioners to estimate the impact of variables like media coverage or social media mentions on sales or other relevant metrics. Time series analysis helps identify correlations between key metrics and PR activities over time, enabling the tracking of long-term effects.

 

Difference-in-differences analysis compares metrics between exposed and control groups to isolate the impact of PR activities. Attribution modelling assigns credit to different marketing channels, including PR, based on their contribution to specific outcomes. Finally, marketing mix modelling analyses the impact of various channels, including PR, on overall business outcomes.

 

The benefits of holistic measurement

Holistic measurement practices provide PR professionals with a comprehensive view of their campaign's effectiveness. By considering the entire customer journey, practitioners can identify touchpoints that significantly influence decision-making and optimise their strategies accordingly.

 

This approach enables a deeper understanding of brand consideration, visibility, and attitudes toward purchasing, aligning with the broader goals of big tech companies like Google and Meta, which are broadening their measurement offerings, looking at all the different ways people interact with the campaign, and considering their impact on metrics like brand consideration, visibility, and attitudes to purchasing. PR practitioners can do the same.

 

Overcoming challenges and making informed decisions

Measuring marketing performance in the post-cookie era presents challenges, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties. Although econometric techniques require resources and time, investing in accurate data yields long-term value.

 

Public relations practitioners must carefully select the most suitable measurement techniques based on campaign objectives and goals. By critically evaluating various methods and leveraging qualitative measures alongside quantitative data, PR professionals can make informed decisions, demonstrate the value of their work, and drive more effective campaigns.

 

As the era of third-party cookies and privacy-centric measures reshape the digital marketing landscape, public relations professionals must adapt their measurement practices to accurately gauge the impact of their campaigns. Holistic measurement, empowered by econometric techniques, allows PR practitioners to go beyond traditional attribution models and understand the true influence of their efforts throughout the customer journey.

 

By embracing holistic measurement practices, PR professionals can unlock valuable insights, optimise their strategies, and demonstrate the tangible value of public relations in driving business outcomes.

 

In this new era of measurement, public relations emerges as a strategic force that aligns with evolving consumer behaviour and helps organisations thrive in an increasingly complex digital ecosystem.

 

 

 


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The Author

James Crawford

James Crawford is managing director of Manchester and London based PR Agency One. He is also a board director at AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication.

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