Angie Jeffrey, APR, is ABX’s Vice President of Brand Management, and is on the team behind the Gender Equality Measure (GEM™), a program created jointly by ABX and the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE)’s #SeeHer team.
—The Measurement Standard: Welcome to our Measurement Life interview Angie Jeffrey! We are so pleased that you could join us. First, let’s learn a little about you: can you tell us a bit about your current work with ABX, and who they are and what they do?
Thank you for having me! I am a long-time PR measurement expert who defected to the Dark Side of advertising measurement about three years ago. I handle brand-building for ABX, which provides real-time, affordable advertising measurement for every client ad, and all its competitor ads, across the omnichannel spectrum. We’ve measured about 150,000 ads over the past five years, which is more than any research firm in the world. Each ad is measured by consumer panels on 14 KPIs and Gender Equality. Exciting stuff!
—TMS: Looking back, how did you become interested in measurement and evaluation?
It was entirely by accident. My husband and I owned a PR agency in Houston, and I had learned manual publicity measurement techniques from my former years at JCPenney. We found the process so tedious, I asked my brother, who was a software engineer, if he could ‘build something’ to help us. In the end, we created a second venture with him and built PRtrak, which was the first desktop publicity measurement system to deliver data from Arbitron, Nielsen, SQAD, SRDS and others. The second venture took over my life and turned me into a passionate evangelist for PR measurement. When PRtrak was later acquired and spun off, I went with it. Today, it is owned by BurrellesLuce.
—TMS: You’ve worked in both PR measurement and advertising measurement—how are they similar, and in what ways do they differ? Why did you decide to make the leap from PR to advertising?
PR and advertising measurement have quite a bit in common. In traditional media, they both measure: audience impressions, messaging; visuals; where and when the story/ad ran; awareness/clarity of brand; relevance; and more. But they are different in tonality, which is measured carefully in PR, but is always positive or neutral in Advertising – though there is a like/dislike score in the latter. PR’s focus is more centered on messaging, whereas Advertising’s focus seems to be on Calls-to-Action (Intent to Purchase, Look for more Information; Visit the Website, Recommend, Talk About it, etc.).
ABX is in the “creative” testing side of the business, which presents the ads themselves to large panels of individuals to determine whether or not the ad ‘worked.’ The other side of advertising testing is about media spend and audience tracking. Of course, in social media, both paid and non-paid media can be measured in similar ways if one is tracking consumer response through Likes, Clicks, e-Commerce, etc.
I made the leap, again, by accident. My long-time friend and PRtrak business partner, Gary Getto, joined forces with one of the top New York researchers, J.J. Klein, and his partners to create ABX in 2011. I’m a sucker for start-ups and I knew what they were doing was a first. I have been thrilled to learn advertising measurement and to work with tools that are so sophisticated.
—TMS: Is there anything that the PR profession can learn from how advertising does measurement?
Yes, I think the PR profession needs to stop thinking about, and talking about, measurement as a report card or to get a ‘seat at the table.’ I experience the advertising world as employing measurement to determine real brand and business strategy in virtual real-time. Advertising insights managers watch creative measurement to see which ads are doing well, and which aren’t, so they can quickly replace underperformers with better creative. Literally millions of dollars are at stake in running bad creative, so measurement is essential to the business every single day. I think focusing on how PR measurement is also critical to business strategy each and every day is where we need to go.
—TMS: The importance of measurement to prove advertising and PR effectiveness is now fairly generally accepted. However, the struggle for resources—both monetary and staffing—continue. What do you think convinces a company to really invest fully in measurement?
Continuing the comments above, I think we have to convince management that measurement tools in PR are just as critical for business success as they are in advertising. The dollars may be much smaller, but to ensure the companies’ investment in non-paid media is not wasted, ongoing real-time measurement (or near real-time) is a required tool for strategy. We have to focus forward, not backward.
There’s also another path to take. We’ve all heard how important integrated media is. Well, if the PR management pursues the advertising management and they start working on the same programs, the PR department elevates its status and becomes directly accountable for results. A new white paper that should be published by the IPR in the coming months looks at how non-paid media affects creative scores on ads. As we see more and more interaction in types of media, we’ll see more companies expect PR to measure proactively.
—TMS: Please tell our readers about the Gender Equality Measure™ project that you have been involved with, along with the ANA, ABX, and AFE. What should measurement professionals know about the measurement of gender bias in media?
In June of 2015, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the largest advertising association in the U.S., launched the #SEEHER initiative. This was in response to the White House’s identification of the elimination of gender bias in media as a critical issue. The mission is to lead a movement to accurately portray all women and girls in media. The goal is a 20 percent increase in the accurate portrayal of girls and women in media by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.
ABX partnered with the ANA in the #SeeHer effort by testing unconscious gender bias on thousands of ads. The results formed the basis of the ABX Gender Equality Index™, the only syndicated program to measure gender bias across all media in real-time. The Index was adopted by the ANA as the basis of its proprietary GEM™ score. More than 25,000 ads have now been evaluated by ABX, establishing the first-ever national gender norms for men, women, boys and girls. The results of good gender scores deliver:
- Increases purchase intent by more than 26 percent for all consumers.
- Increases purchase intent by more than 45 percent among women.
- Increases reputation by 10 percent.
—TMS: Wow, those are some impressive stats. Tell us about the next steps for the GEM™ project—or, what do you see as the next great measurement need in advertising, marketing, or PR?
The next step for the GEM project in the advertising space will likely be multicultural bias in ads. We are working on this now, but is very difficult sometimes to determine race and ethnicity!
For PR, measurement pros should also be evaluating their own, and their competitors’, content for how they are presenting human characters in photographs and video. This is almost more important in non-paid media than in paid. There is no guidance yet within the PR world to direct this measurement, but we’ve created a little Powerpoint that fleshes out the four key questions that we use in Gender Equality Measurement (see Slide 8 of bit.ly/2kIsqCg). It’s easy to adapt these four questions for PR by creating your own index. Since every brand is terrified of a bad gender rap in the news, using this measure may help convince a client or management of the value of PR measurement.
—TMS: As the lines between PR, marketing, and advertising continue to blur, do you feel there is a need for more unified measurement that tracks the effectiveness of overall communications, or should we be refining measurements between these practices to ensure they are independently effective?
Yes, I do believe there is a great need for unified measurement that tracks the effectiveness of overall communications. Back at VMS in the old days, we actually developed a platform called Vantage that brought paid- and nonpaid-media together on one portal. It was a fascinating program but before its time.
The only problem with comparing different media types side by side, though, is that some look unfairly dwarfed. For instance, total U.S. Ad Spending for 2016 was $420.5 Billion (Advertising Age June 27, 2016) – and all of PR accounted for five percent of everything.
So, I think a better way is to use the smaller “marketing services” to show their impact on the big-spend areas, and how they become more effective. Referring again to our IPR paper that is due out soon, we looked at how Positive PR Impressions impacted Ad Creative Scores. So, if an ad scores at 100 before PR, and 120 after PR, then it is 20 percent more effective than before. If the company was spending $500,000 on that ad, it should now deliver closer to $600,000 in actual business results. That’s an exciting way to look at the impact of one media type on another.
—TMS: What are your favorite measurement tools or projects?
Of course, one is the AMEC Framework, which lays out the whole PR measurement framework in a way that is interactive and wonderful. Another is the way CARMA does deep message analysis for clients and uploaded results on a ‘near real-time’ platform. I also quite like some of the new platforms that link PR outputs to web analytics.
—TMS: Where are measurement and evaluation going? What great strides do you see in your crystal ball?
I think real-time tools will get better and better, enabling the connection to web and social media site analytics to make more sense. I believe there will always be a need for human analysis of message; most of that is too complex for machines. I think access to ‘real’ research tools like surveys will continue to become more and more affordable, and that young people being educated now will more readily use them to measure PR. Finally, no one wants to hear this, but I do believe the research world needs to provide practitioners with some easy metrics to replace AVE, for those who are never going to measure beyond basic outputs. If we don’t provide this, we really can’t blame them for holding on to outdated practices.
—TMS: If you could invent one magical measurement or evaluation tool to accomplish anything, what would it be?
Well, I think some of them exist now, but just are too expensive for the average person. For instance, everyone should have his own Market Mix Modeler! I’ve got one through a business partnership, and have become addicted to his magic ability with analytics. Everyone should also have a massive CRM and attribution system where you can track a single piece of creative or content all the way to a sale. The big companies have these; wouldn’t it be nice!
—TMS: I want to thank you for taking the time to join us Angie, it has been a pleasure to learn more about you, and the important work you are doing measuring gender bias.