Considering the System

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Image from: Young Professionals / Shutterstock

The ARF Young Pros organizes a monthly Breakfast with Champions, and this past month, 12 other Young Pros and I were lucky enough to sit down with Jeffrey Graham, the Director of Global Ad Research at Twitter. While offering many insights into current research practices, the world of Twitter, and professional development, Graham’s ability to contextualize those insights stood out.

In the world of digital marketing, where there are constantly moving pieces it can be easy to get drawn into the details. In an effort to simplify complex systems we often rely on a combination of what we are familiar with, what is immediately available and what is tangible. This can mean defining success or failure by a fraction of a campaign, because it is the easiest to measure or using CTR as a KPI, despite a campaign being more about branding than driving clicks. And while precision and attention to detail are certainly important, it sometimes obscures the bigger picture.

When Graham talks about the value of Twitter he doesn’t just talk about the return on a brand’s sponsored tweet (though they are finding ways to quantify that), instead he talks about all the different users that exist on the platform. Twitter allows brands to interact in traditional ways by buying “paid” impressions, but it also lets them interact with users that follow them, giving them “owned” impressions, and lastly by brands being talked about and shared beyond their followers they get “earned” impressions.  These three types of contact all have different effects and each can have a different impact on different types of users. But these effects also aren’t siloed, the “owned” impressions can be re-tweeted creating “earned” impressions, which can help to better target the “paid” impressions.  The relationships between the different types of impression aren’t direct, they are complicated and they are big, similar to the relationships between people.

It is easy to see how one could get wrapped up in looking at a single tweet, and while that is important, the larger context can also provide meaning. Building a system of measurement that can measure all of the different interactions is difficult, but exploring different types of measurement is important to actually understanding the full impact of a campaign. Graham provided a valuable reminder to always look for the bigger picture.