Metrics are the life blood of any meaningful marketing initiative. Among social media and influencer marketers, engagement metrics signal brand sentiment and investment returns. Encapsulating the full value of that engagement can be tricky. But marketers are using a more advanced metric known as earned media value.
The goal of earned media value (EMV) and influencer media value (IMV) are to help brands valuate their social media efforts. As more brands scale their businesses at record speeds with the help of influencers, the late majority clamors for more tangible ways to measure influencer and performance ROI.
In this quick guide, we’ll define EMV and offer some insight into how this metric can help your influencer program. As we unpack these concepts, we strongly suggest using engagement metrics and analytics tools to track the relationship between social media impressions and revenue. This approach will help you focus on which techniques yield the highest returns.
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What is Earned Media Value (EMV)?
Technically, EMV is the sum value of all third-party mentions. These third-party mentions include (but are not limited to) social media, websites, press, forums, and reviews.
Traditionally, marketers measure EMV based purely on user generated content (UGC) and no dollars spent. However, social media platforms have empowered various ways to invest in EMV through sponsored ads and influencers. As such, digital marketers are motivated to understand their EMV and invest their resources accordingly.
The basis for EMV lies in understanding what effect a brand’s marketing decisions and public image have on their prospects. Rather than spend a “dollar to get a dollar,” mature marketers want to spend a dollar to set off a chain reaction of positive buyer feedback.
If earned media value is low, that often indicates a problem with the brand’s image, voice, or marketing decisions. When EMV is high, the brand has identified meaningful connections with their audience.
There are a few different approaches to understanding and using EMV. Whether or not your organization adopts a particular model depends upon your marketing strategy and the success with which you can arrive at a reliable metric for EMV.
Comparing Impressions and Sales
One method that experts use to uncover EMV is by comparing impressions to sales, because it mimics models for TV ad buys and assumes that all impressions are equally important. As television advertising continues to change drastically – thanks to the rise of media streaming online and digital advertising – marketers are less interested in the traditional definition of “impressions”.
However, this approach is simpler. Leading social media platforms show users impression metrics, including likes, comments, and shares. Further, eCommerce vendors making wise use of tags and cookies can track subsequent user behavior.
Examining Quality Versus Quantity Impressions
Consumers are spending hours of their day engaging brands, influencers, and one another over social media. Thanks to social media channels reflecting different types of impressions, marketers can weigh each impression differently.
For example, follower and like counts (vanity metrics) clearly hold less value than do post comments, shares, and page visits. The same is also true for page views versus CTRs.
Marketers can assign values to different kinds of impressions. This approach ensures a more accurate EMV.
More advanced EMV enthusiasts want to know the impact of an event or message on an audience. Their hope is that EMV metrics will demonstrate how the brand can influence specific audience responses to the brand’s marketing decisions.
The Relationship Between Earned Media Value and Influencers (Influencer Media Value)
Influencer marketing is a fairly new approach to social media marketing. As a result, EMV priorities have shifted from marketer to influencer.
That’s why some agencies have adopted the EMV model and applied it (with slight modifications) to the influencer space. Additionally, a few influencer marketing vendors offer a proprietary algorithm for paying customers. These vendors have dubbed their algorithm “influencer media value” (IMV).
When examining the success of an influencer’s posts, EMV (or IMV) can quantify that influencer’s personal brand in tangible dollars and cents. That said, this influencer earned media value will vary greatly based on a brand’s budget and the nature of their products/service.
Depending upon the way you calculate an influencer’s EMV, the differences between EMV and IMV could be slight or significant. The important thing is that if you choose to integrate EMV as a key metric in your influencer program, you should pay careful attention to which impressions produce replicable ROI.
IMV Versus Paid Media
The most common reason that a marketer would embrace influencer media value (IMV) is because it compares influencer spend to PPC ad spend. Done correctly, studies show that influencer posts produce better quality impressions than do traditional PPC ads.
Additionally, influencer marketing costs are lower than PPC ads if you include the cost of creative copy on digital ads. Influencer posts are more genuine and engage audiences with greater authenticity.
In short, IMV should demonstrate a comparable ROI to paid media. For example, an IMV of $100 indicates that your influencer marketing results generated what you could expect to achieve by spending $100 on digital ads. If you spent less than $100 on that particular influencer campaign, then you’ve achieved a positive ROI and better results than if you had spent those dollars on ads.
What is Earned Media Value Worth?
This question is difficult to answer and depends greatly upon your brand’s marketing objectives.
However, identifying a reliable approach to calculating EMV and IMV could help your team make better influencer marketing decisions. Gaining a solid understanding of your EMV can help you save money on paid media (since you can gauge the dollar value of your owned media exposure). Lastly, IMV further saves you paid media costs by showing you which social media users (influencers) also possess high EMV.
In a study published in 2018, RhythmOne found that brands achieved around $12 per $1 of earned media value. Other marketing experts declare that the EMV (and by implication, IMV) is void of standardization and holds little to no value in present-day digital marketing.
“Earned media value (EMV) is one of those abstract marketing concepts that employs its own special form of vanity-metric voodoo.” – Jeff Ernst, CEO at Symec and contributor on CMO by Adobe
Metric distrust notwithstanding, many marketers lean heavily upon EMV calculations and use it to inform future marketing decisions successfully.
How to Calculate Influencer Earned Media Value
The closest that any marketers have to a standardized earned media value formula is as follows:
(Impressions) * (Cost per 1,000, or CPM) * (Adjustment Factor)
Currently, the only variable in the formula above with any stable metric is CPM, a metric used in TV/PPC advertising. Impressions remain a controversial concept in digital marketing (see Examining Quality Versus Quantity Impressions). Lastly, adjustment factors also convey significant ambiguity but leave flexibility for marketers to tweak value accuracy.
Brands and agencies that can properly weigh the quality of impressions – and define industry adjustment factors – arrive at EMV (or IMV) for their organization with remarkable accuracy.
Earned Media Value Calculation Factors
EMV calculation factors include impressions, cost per thousand impressions (CPM), and any variables that impact the other two factors. For example, vanity metrics contribute to skewed IMV for fake influencers.
As a result, engagement metrics have become the most significant EMV factor. These engagement metrics place greater weight on impressions taking the form of post comments, shares, and other authentic brand interactions. Conscientious marketers place weighted values on these different impressions to calculate a more accurate EMV or IMV.
Why Earned Media Value is Important to Influencer Marketing
Ultimately, authentic engagement leads to increased brand awareness and sales. Earned media value and influencer media value can demonstrate which influencers possess the highest ROI potential.
When investing in influencers, you need your marketing dollars to result in a swell of digital word-of-mouth. Influencers with high engagement metrics grant you a headstart, because they’ve done the work of nurturing authentic connections with their audience.
With GRIN’s influencer marketing platform, brands can track engagement, along with influencer EMV. Brands can use EMV metrics to identify where they will get maximum ROI. And because GRIN’s EMV calculations are programmed based on engagement metrics (rather than vanity metrics), there is no risk of formula tampering by nervous marketers.
How to Use Earned Media Value in Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
The first and most obvious way to use EMV is to identify your top-performing influencers. But since you can calculate EMV based on influencer accounts and individual posts, you can further use EMV to guide your ongoing marketing decisions.
For example, high-performing influencer posts from a recent campaign can make great repurposed content in ad campaigns. Since you already know that a particular image and message will perform, you can leverage that value to sponsor paid social media for increased engagement.
Despite the complexity and – at times – controversial use of earned media value at some organizations, identifying and weighing an influencer’s impressions can help your brand calculate a reliable EMV.
Having confidence in your EMV approach can help you establish marketing message accuracy, as well as leverage the best-fitting influencers to increase your ongoing user generated content. For more information on influencer engagement and ROI, check out these resources below: