LOL, SM Experts Want To Use Ad Equivalency To Show Value of Impressions.

monty-python-and-the-holy-grail1If it feels like the process of measuring the ROI of social media is a bit like the search for the Holy Grail, you may be on to something.

But the suggested measurement methodology of Jim Tobin (founder and president of Ignite Social Media, a social media marketing agency in Cary) – assuming the reporter is being accurate – is beyond the gates of the Castle Augh.

For years, the publicity industry has been chastised (appropriately so) for trying to demonstrate the value of media coverage through the use of a ridiculous “ad equivalency” model. And yet, here we are suggesting that this is a good model for social media?  Are you kidding me?

“We can calculate the number of impressions that our organic efforts, such as our updates, have generated,” Tobin said. “And we can put a value on them by multiplying by the common cost per thousand impressions.”

Apparently you are not kidding me.  Apparently you think this is a good way to assign a value to social media exposure.  In the words of King Arthur, “Whoa there!” This is a silly idea that assumes you are comparing apples to apples – and you are not.  An online media buy (whether a text ad or display ad or a simple word link) is not equivalent to “content”, whether it is a blog post or a Facebook exchange or a Twitter post or an image pin comment.

But forget all that. Companies (most, if not all) are not looking for “valuation.” They want to understand how social media contributes to sales. They want to understand the entire process – how does it create and build brand awareness, motivate discovery and exploration, nurture engagement, develop relationships, achieve conversion, and establish and maintain brand loyalty?

And they especially want to know about conversion. They want to know what amount or percentage of sales can be directly attributed to social media. It is a noble quest that should be taken seriously, not insulted with ad equivalency suggestions.



Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.