How To Budget For and Choose a Media Measurement Company

man-and-woman-look-at-chartsWith RFPs flying around us every day, and confused clients throwing up their hands and saying “Help...I can’t figure this all out!" we thought it'd be the perfect time to provide a basic “how to” lesson on selecting the right vendor (as well as a brief review of the latest tools).

First of all, the IPR Measurement Commission Guidelines for Measuring PR has a wonderful checklist of questions to ask anyone you are thinking about hiring for a measurement project. The next question is: “What’s the budget?” There’s no point in putting out an RFP for a research project that will bring back bids larger than your PR budget. There are lots of ways of bringing costs down—mostly by looking at smaller, more focused influencer or Top Tier Media lists—so don’t think you can’t afford measurement. With today’s tools anyone (yes...including YOU!) can afford measurement, but the key is matching your budget with the results that you expect.

You should plan on spending at least 5% of your communications budget measuring your results. Think about it: doesn’t it make sense to spend at least 5% of the budget with which you talk at your customers to actually listening to them? Here are a few general guidelines we use to guesstimate programs.

  • Automated content analysis systems have brought the cost of big programs down considerably, but when all is said and done, it still costs money to get your content analyzed by humans, see Katie Paine’s Vendor Selection Chart for the right choice for your project. Assume somewhere between $3 and $10 a clip for content analysis. Can you get it cheaper? Sure. Is with your data be valid and reliable? Probably not. Can you spend more? Absolutely. Most organizations don’t break out their charges on a per clip basis, but it’s not hard to do the math.
  • For survey research, assume a minimum of around $75 per completed survey, depending on the complexity of the analysis, the difficulty in reaching people, and the availability of a good list.
  • If you are on a really tight budget and want to do the analysis yourself, you still have to get the media items from somewhere. Figure you’re going to spend at least $300 a month on clipping.
  • Going international is expensive, no matter how you do it. Adding “Europe” is adding multiple countries, and multiple languages. Do you mean U.K., France, and Germany, or all of the EU, and do you want to include Eastern Europe? Figure that if you’re spending $30K per year to analyze your coverage in one country – the U.S. – then you will probably spend that per country overseas if all the parameters remain the same. Asia always seems to be slightly more expensive than Europe, and Latin America is typically cheaper.

So, once you have a rough idea of budget, you can begin to define what it is you are going to get for your money. Let’s look at it by way of the 3 phases of any research program:

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Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.