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Magazine Metrics: Make the Punishment Fit the Crime

Measuring glaciers.


Ted Bahr By Ted Bahr
12/04/2007 -18:01 PM






I just returned from a sales trip on the West Coast. I am always looking for ways to keep fighting the wacky perception that print is dead, as is regularly reported in print media-Doh! One of the problems was typified by a large client who said he wants to measure the success of a marketing effort on the very next day, and since you could not do that with print, he was only using online media.

Now there are many things one can respond to here, but I want to focus on the metrics. It is very difficult to measure the results of a print ad campaign in a trade publication on a daily basis. It's not how they work. You don't measure the speed of a glacier moving in miles per hour. You measure glaciers in inches per year. Similarly, you have to measure print campaign benefits in longer-term metrics like "increase in awareness over six months, change in brand perception or brand preference" over a longer period of time.

If you are not offering the kind of research that measures these kinds of metrics right now, you need to be. Print cannot be measured with clicks but it doesn't produce that type of impulsive result. That doesn't mean that what we do produce-awareness, brand preference and sales-cannot be measured. They can be, quite easily with pre-and post-campaign studies. There are many quick-and-dirty online research sites out there (www.surveymonkey.com is one) where you can do a study for less than $20.

You should also be using Harvey, Readex or Starch to independently measure the perception of an advertiser's creative as well as the creative of every other advertiser in the issue. This sort of research- common in print for years-is very rare in the online world. When I mention the breadth and depth of these studies to the new online buyers they are amazed.

Don't give in to demands for online metrics that don't make sense for print. There are ways to measure print's effectiveness. Educate your customers and use them.

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Ted Bahr By Ted Bahr -- Ted Bahr founded BZ Media, a technology-focused media company, with Alan Zeichick in 1999. Before that, Ted held numerous positions at Miller Freeman, finally as a Group President and member of the Board of Directors. At Miller Freeman, Ted launched 8 magazines, plus many conferences and ancillary products. He has managed magazines in many markets including computers, electronics, music, video, travel, real estate, interior design and manufacturing.

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