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Crowdtap’s Brand Influence metric: my questions

9 August 2011

puma-head

Few people will commit to a brand like this little boy... but how to measure brand influence?


I am a passionate reader of FastCompany.com and its design pendant FastCoDesign.com (and I advise you to have a look at it, very inspiring!). Right after publishing a blog post the difficulty of classifying crowdsourcing actors, in which I placed CrowdTap as an example of good measurement/metrics, Fast Company published an article about their last innovation: the Brand Influence Metric. Brand Influence (“the cross-channel metric for marketing impact“) measures the power of any marketing action to impact consumers’ advocacy of the client’s brand and willingness to purchase its products. Does this metric usher a new era for marketing metrics or is it a proprietary metric with limited broad impact? Some questions…

What is Crowdtap?

Crowdtap self-defines itself as an “on-demand participation network” or a “network for brand influencer communities“. I would describe as a particularly innovative panel based on social networking and gamification (obviously two major trends today). They have a corporate website, crowdtap.it, and a community website, crowdtap.com. Their community website is closely linked to facebook, thus providing Crowdtap – and its clients – precious information about participants’ tastes, interests and networks. Through its community website, brands can connect with their target consumers and engage them in “social marketing activities” like content sharing, online discussions, co-creation, product sampling and even house parties. Today, Crowdtap indicates gathering 150,000 members, and only operates in the US (yet).

 

Why a new metric?

 

This is an important question! There are different social media metrics, but they are basically limited to reach and impressions, which is pretty much taken over from the old mass-media model. According to the authors J. Seddon and B. Evans, even recent attempts to measure engagement include “everything from clicking on a banner ad, to watching a video, to spending two hours in a friend’s home learning about a new product“. Their Brand Influence metric is supposed to combine quality and quantity:

 

from-report

 

My remarks and questions

 

This formula makes sense as it integrates deepness with scope of interaction. It’s even surprinsing that this type of metric only shows up today, in August 2011! But I’ve got questions about the report and what they show in it… maybe they (you) could answer me here. The evolution of the four dimensions that Crowdtap measured before and after the operations are impressive. The two dimensions that are used to measure the final ROI, advocacy and purchase intent, skyrocket after a Crowdtap campaign… but how would they have evolved after other types of marketing actions?

 

extract-report

How can we gauge the value of Crowdtap's concept without any comparison?

 

The process by which this metric emerged might be perfectly valid, but the report does not show several crucial figures like the campaign costs ot the real reach of the marketing action. Even if we had these figures; they would only provide a theoretical ROI because it’s based on “the assumption that the increase in willingness to purchase is equivalent to uplift in purchases“.

Also, why does a paragraph miss in the last version of the report (see below)? I would have loved to see “how various channels affect both brand equity and ROI […] per $ 1,000 spent”!

screen-captures

 

Besides, as David Zax from Fast Comapny notes,  does it make sense to create a ‘proprietary metric’ that can only be use by a single platform/community i.e. Crowdtap? Even though Crowdtap’s CEO says that “there’s nothing proprietary here“, he admits that “Crowdtap is better equipped to measure [these dimensions] than anybody else“. Sure, but why would competitors use it then?

Fast Company’s post concludes by saying that “at least [Crowdtap has] made an assertion that others can test. It’s a start towards bringing that I Love Lucy era of unaccountability to a close“. I perfectly agree with that, especially because it’s a metric that is supposed to be fed continually with data from Crowdtap’s campaigns. But while reading the report I had these questions, so I thought I would ask them straight through my blog. It’s not an auto-da-fé, people from Crowdtap (especially since you’re a lot more experienced than I am), but if you could provide some answer, it would be great!

Besides, as David Zax from Fast Comapny notes,  does it make sense to create a ‘proprietary metric’ that can only be use by a single platform/community i.e. Crowdtap? Even though Crowdtap’s CEO says that “there’s nothing proprietary here“, he admits that “Crowdtap is better equipped to measure [these dimensions] than anybody else“. Sure, but why would competitors use it then?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 August 2011 16:18

    Yanning,
    Thanks for taking the time to read our report and for the thoughtful post. I appreciate your questions, the main thing I will say is that they key to the report is really the formula itself. I think clearly we take a big step in the right direction in adding context and quality to the level of depth a marketer is getting with a purchase over previous metrics like impressions and reach. That is really the key of this report.

    The ROI study we did was just to show the metric in action and was easiest for us to do on Crowdtap. While we did have some big brand equity lifts in the campaigns that were measured, that really has no effect on the actual metric developed, just case studies that utilized it. As more case studies are done and ideally ones outside of our system, we can create a more accurate link between Brand Influence Points and ROI. For the time being, if nothing else, Brand Influence gives a marketer a lot more information about the quality of the marketing they are purchasing instead of just assuming all impressions/reach/GRPs etc is the same.

    Lastly, I did want to clarify that it was Joanna not me that said Crowdtap is better equipped to measure these dimensions than anyone else. Clearly as we are the first to utilize it, that is the case now but the point I was making was that we would prefer the metric be used industry wide and are more than willing to work with other companies and industry associations to make that happen.

    If you have other questions, feel free to ping me on twitter.

    Hope these answers help,
    Brandon

    • 10 August 2011 09:43

      Thank you for your answer, Brandon.
      The interesting contribution of the metric is indeed the fact that it’s the first to go beyong reach. It would be interesting to see others use it, hope to see more on that in the future (especially for comparison purpose).
      Is the missing paragraph of page 11 (about how channels affect brand equity & ROI per expenditures) an error? Or did you decide to retrieve this information because you thought it did not add enough value – or in order to publish it in future reports?
      Yannig

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