Measurement Menace of the Month: American Media Institute

AMI logoThis example of blatantly bad metrics showed up in my inbox about 30 minutes after I posted my story showing the absurdity of using impressions as a measure of results. The American Media Institute, a non-profit investigative news organization, says it’s dedicated to public accountability by offering exclusive content to drive readers, reputation, and revenue to major news outlets. Except that, as far as I can tell, it isn’t measuring any of those things. What they are using for measurement is very unreliable (impressions) or banned by the PR industry (Publicity Value).

Here’s their “accountability:”


First of all, as we have pointed out numerous times before, the way media outlets calculate impressions these days is hardly standardized. Secondly, the suggestion that on an average day 45 million people (more than the population of New York, Newark, and Cairo combined!) read every AMI story is certainly impressive, but highly improbable, impossible to prove, and reeking of self-aggrandizement.

Thirdly, “Publicity Value” was rejected by the communications groups worldwide in 2010 with the Barcelona Principles. So to call it a “standard measure in public relations” is a flat out falsehood. Fourthly, in reading their content, they aren’t promoting a brand. They are mostly reporting on legal issues and investigations, and I know very few brands that would want to pay to be mentioned in the same paragraph as “lawsuit,” “litigation,” or “investigation.”

Furthermore, while CPM is a standard metric in the paid media realm, if you’re going to calculate CPM for earned media, you have to define what your “costs” are. They provide no data on what goes into their CPM calculations.

For all those reasons, we name the American Media Institute our Measurement Menace of the Month. ∞


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