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Less subjectivity: how auditing PR activities helps brands

We find out what effect PR activities have on the brand, using the example of AWT Bavaria brands: BMW, MINI, RR. We also give instructions on how to calculate how many people have read the PR material

Dmitry Snigir, co-owner newage. digital agency, will prove the importance of a comprehensive analysis of PR campaigns

Brands invest thousands of dollars in PR. Of course, any brand wants to be read about, talked about, and receive comments and feedback. Sometimes a brand hires entire editorial offices, creates special projects in the media, or sends bloggers on a journey to the end of the world for one outstanding picture. But the “trust factor” for PR is quite subjective. When resources are spent, marketers face the task of evaluating the results of the campaign.

Our client AWT Bavaria, for whom we run digital media campaigns for BMW, MINI, and RR brands, set a goal to find out what impact PR activities have on the brand. Let’s consider this case in more detail. While researching the task, we started the audit of several PR activities that are regularly posted by brand PR managers.

Previously, we set up a campaign based on Behaviour-based Audience Segmentation for BMW. Read about it in the BMW Case Study.

How to calculate how many people have read your PR article?

Most often we evaluate the statistics with Google Analytics or similar systems. But it is not enough to simply count the number of publications and contacts. Of course, it’s nice to look at Visits – it’s a big number. But it does not give a complete picture of the reach of unique users. If the User ID function is not enabled, unique browser identifiers cookies are displayed under the user without cross-browsers and cross-devices. So, if a user starts reading an article on a smartphone, saves the link, and reads it at home on a tablet, this will be counted as two views, not one.

Facebook, on the other hand, focuses on accounts when calculating reach, which is close to unique users. Reach counts all accounts that have seen more than 50% of a post in their feed for more than two seconds. However, it still does not mean conscious contact, compared to the situation in media when a person purposefully opens PR material.

You can also use auditing systems such as:

They allow you to more fully assess the reach of one metric in users and see the intersection of the audience between sites and materials. Moreover, by using special scripts you can not only track the time of contact but also find out whether the user has read the article to the end or just scrolled through it.

If a PR article gets more than 100,000 reach, you can also get socio-demographic data of the audience based on panel studies. Of course, all of these systems work differently and have their own capabilities – not all platforms have the ability to install certain auditors.

How we can measure the impact of PR material on audience behavior?

Usually, PR materials contain links to a brand or product. That allows you to measure the number of clicks from each specific article, for example, in Google Analytics using UTM tags. This may be enough if we talk about performance advertising when the main goal is to drive traffic and get as many leads as possible for a low CPA.
But when it comes to brand and media effect, it becomes more complicated. It is of great importance to evaluate the impact on user behavior after the contact, regardless of whether the link was clicked from the article (post-click) or not. After all, the user might not go to the target site after reading, but remember the brand and, for example, google it in a couple of days. This visit will be directly related to them reading the article, and it must be attributed to it. Delayed actions are called post-views and in our experience, they are the majority.

If you assess only transitions by UTM tags, the conclusions may be wrong, since most of the data will simply get avoided. Therefore, the Comprehensive Analysis must be applied.

Through auditors, it is possible to measure what effect PR has had on the user and how it has affected his behavior. Technically, it works like this:

  1. Zero pixel of the auditor or even several of them is installed along with the materials for viewing/reading the article and for the click link if there is any.
  2. The auditor counter is installed on the site(s) of the brand.
  3. The auditor can compare how many users contacted the PR, how many of them went to the site, how much time had passed after reading before they returned, what sources they came through, whether it was organic, search-context advertising, a teaser or something else.

What impact does a PR article have on the user?

To evaluate the impact of a single article on the audience, you need to install a pixel audit. This will allow you to measure attracted users and calculate the cost of attraction for each PR publication, each channel, and each media outlet. And the things that can be measured can be managed. For example, you can stop working with platforms that do not work, are too expensive, or attract the wrong target audience. Their budget can be redirected to placements that give the maximum effect.

Using the example of BMW PR publications, we used this analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of articles posted on nv.ua, maincream.com, and auto.ria.com. We can’t measure how many users came to the showroom and bought a car after reading an article. That’s why we decided to evaluate the active actions on the brand’s websites that indicate the interest of buyers: signing up for a test drive, asking for a price, and such. We have installed a pixel audit on all BMW publications and websites. As a result, we began to receive statistics starting with the first week of placement.

Transitions to the site from post-click and post-view ranged from 0.05% to 50% of the reached audience. With post-click, users go almost immediately after contact, and with post-view, this time can reach up to a month on average.

This way, a comprehensive analysis of PR campaigns allows you to evaluate which platforms and materials work best and prioritize the most effective ones. It also allows you to compare performance with other media formats.

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