by: Stefan Kolle

       One of the vexing matters in innovative marketing is the lack of reliable metrics.  David Polinchock’s post on the Measurement Excuse is one fine example of the discussions going on. I’d like to add my opinion to the discussion, as the whole issue of metrics in the modern media space has been keeping me thinking (and more often than not, ranting) a lot recently. And I came up with something I want to share with you.

        I think the point is, at this moment we can't really measure in a meaningful way - but we still try or pretend to. And that's obviously where things go wrong. Running this website for two years now, I can admit to not having a clue how many readers we really have. I have some indicative numbers, such as daily RSS feeds, email newsletter subscribers, Google telling me how many people visited the site, more than, say 10 times. None of this is in any way conclusive, as there are too many unknown parameters.

        If I start pretending these are hard numbers, and act upon them, I fool myself and my readers (and in a case of an ad-supported blog, I would fool my advertisers too).
I have heard clients admit flat-out, that the only reason they still do TV advertising, even though in their hearts they know it is the least efficient way of spending their budget, is because it gives the illusion of measurability. I’ve heard a room full of planners admit that they all stuck to GRP’s as their main measurement – because everyone else did.
        My main point is, by pretending to be able to measure these things, we block paths where we accept reality for what it is, and try to make the best of it. Maybe the best way to spend my marketing budget is to only identify the 5 mega-influencers in my market, and work with them. Nothing else. Nothing.  Scary thought, isn’t it? Especially as you would have to call headquarters and tell them that you don’t need 90% of your marketing budget this year….
        Until such time that we all have ID-chips implanted that tell what we are watching, there is no way of truly knowing what is going on. And even then - would we know if someone is REALLY looking at that video and its overlay ads, or just having them on as aural wallpaper?

        Where am I heading with this? In my personal attempts to win the Nobel Prize in Marketing I am playing around with a little model, that I want to share with you in its raw state, hopefully triggering some useful comments. My real value is not in raw numbers – it is in relevance, attention and reputation. And now you think – wait, Attention Economy, Reputation Management – aren’t these already out there? Yes indeed they are, but I think we need to add relevance to the mix to make it a complete model.

  •  Relevance: how relevant are the brand and I to each other? Does it offer me something I want or need? Am I able to buy what they have – physically or financially?
  •  Attention:  how much time am I spending with the content on offer? Do I myself create content for the brand? How much attention is the brand giving my needs, thoughts and desires? And how much of my money do I spend on it.
  •  Reputation: what reputation does the brand have with those people whose opinion I care for? What reputation do I have amongst my peers to be of value to the company?

        Attention has been called the new currency – I would go so far as to say that currency is just a form of attention.

In simple words, the model represents this:
        The attention I give to a company is based on the multiplication of the relevance of what the company is saying, with the attention it receives from others, and the reputation it has.
        The value of my attention to the company, depends on how relevant I am to the company, and what my reputation with third parties is.
        The three elements are dependent on each other – and reinforce each other: relevance leads to reputation – but reputation also enhances relevance, which in turn leads to more attention, etc.

To draw the analogy of currency in Economics 101: Attention is the cash, Relevance the money supply, Reputation the interest rate.


If we think this through, we get to the following mapping of the relationship:


        The interaction between brand and consumer takes place on the main intersection of Consumer Attention versus Brand Relevance. This is where value is created for both parties, and WoM creation is initiated. The attention a consumer gives to a brand is driven by the reputation and relevance it has to him, the value of a consumers attention for a brand depends on  his relevance and  Obviously, there is a lot more thinking behind this, but for now I want to throw it out there, and see what the reaction is. Deafening silence would send me back to the medicine cabinet 

The real hook here is of course Word of Mouth – and I will follow up on this in my next blogpost.

In the meantime - what do you think about this - extending our view of the relationship between brand and customer beyond Attention and Reputation, and include Relevance?

Leave a Comment