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The obsession with thick folders of media clips, is fast facing obsolescence. Emerging and contemporary marketing and publicity have become more focused on social conversations, whether they are positive or not, and how best to transform social conversations to sales leads.

More and more marketing and communication agencies have moved away from the aged measurement of publicity effectiveness by how thick the media clip booklet is, or by the now rather obsolete idea of “advertising value equivalence”.

There are many reasons, but here are some of them:

1) Media flux. The traditional media space keeps changing, and in the print environment, the stated circulation and reach is optimistic and remains in a state of constant flux. In many print publications, declining circulation is real, and many publications are facing oblivion due to the onslaught of social media and free media, especially on mobiles. With a siege mentality some traditional media undertakes by locking up their content, it has also made media monitoring more difficult. If a measurement is made against the circulation and advertising rates of a traditional media, the calculations will be a constant state of flux, which is at best a nice number to present, but does not translate to real-world sales performance. What’s more, the siege mentality by some traditional media by locking up their content means that monitoring such coverage become more difficult.

2) Qualitative limitations. Some print media platforms may feature a product in a full page, and others, in a small space. The variance in size, and how prominently the piece of news feature in the page, and what kind of tone and sentiment, will not be reflected in a mere news clipping report that reflects mere numerical data. As we marketers with a background of psychology and sociology know, purchase decisions of consumers are always emotive.

3) Geolocation. The traditional media clip report does not often cater to specific geographic, economic, cultural and other nuances that can change the value of a media mention. For example, what is the consumer spending in such a locale versus another locale? What is the per capita in this locale versus another? What is the heterogeneity and its impact on such a media mention? These are important factors to determine if a particular media mention in one locale is compared in terms of value and influence compared to another locale, especially when it translates to sales.

Therefore, with too many variance and way too many nuances, the traditional media clip report is antiquated and does not help marketers account for organizational performance in relation to publicity. There are many attempts by marketers and practitioners to create reports, that ultimately end in practical real-world failure, because such reports are convoluted, unnecessarily complex, and confuse rather than educate. If obfuscation is the aim, then the goal is reach. But the reality is that we as marketers and practitioners should hold ourselves to a practical and approachable stance.

So what are the more enlightened marketers and practitioners doing then?

We are looking at social conversations online, which can generate a ready and abundantly available data source, from very pervasive (global), to more constrained (regional or even local). Social conversations occur online on social media platforms (primarily), forums, and even the online websites of traditional media. These conversations determine how a company’s news is perceived, whether it be a product launch, a spokesperson comment, a third-party analysis of this company, financial performance, and so on. This is not a clinical statistical analysis we do in a “clean-room” spreadsheet, but real-world conversations by real people concerning the brands, their reputation, their popularity, and their influence. This is what we measure and should examine, because these conversations determine how far our products can go in terms of word-of-mouth advertising and sales.

There are many platforms available for content generation, and many for propagating these content to social media platforms and communities. And now, we as marketers and practitioners are also using platforms to measure, gauge, discern, dissect, and make decisions from social conversations.

People are talking about our brands, or maybe they are talking about our competition. Do we live in a sheltered glass house and timidly hide behind nice albums, or do we step out and reach out to listen intently and consistently on what people are talking about?