We Need Auditing

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In traditional media an entire industry rose out of advertisers’ need to audit emerging formats.

We have ABC for print, Arbitron for radio, Nielsen for TV, comScore and Nielsen-Netratings for Web sites. These companies have built a multi-billion dollar syndicated research industry because marketers need data on which they base their ad buys.
Today another shift is taking place in the media world. Consumers are creating their own content – blogs, podcasts and the like – and distributing it via RSS. Some of the larger consumer-generated properties are being grouped into networks and sold like media. These include Federated Media, 9Rules, Know More Media, Weblogs Inc, Podshow, Podtech, Gawker Media and others. These too must be audited, but so far they’re not.

Everyone tries hard to spin data a certain way to make it seem like they’re delivering more qualified eyeballs/ears than their competitors. Auditing keeps publishers humble. With social media networks, however, the game is more than just about numbers. It’s about reaching influencers. This means that marketers need auditing that goes beyond reach and explores influence meterics. So far, Nielsen BuzzMetrics is best positioned to develop the kind of syndicated research marketers crave, but I think this could be anyone’s game to grab if they act fast.

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

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