REACH: the term used to express the total percentage of a target audience who are exposed to a brand message at least once throughout a campaign period. This figure represents unduplicated audience exposure.
Reach used to be the standard measurement for the total audience size available in a given medium for an advertising message, it was then co-opted to help define the earned impressions generated by social media. Now that branded content and owned networks are becoming a bigger part of the marketing mix , there is a need for an updated Reach KPI to measure how well content marketing is driving views and brand loyalty.
Let's take a minute to remember how the Reach metric came into our vocabulary. Originally a media term, it represented the total available audience who could be targeted as defined by households, circulation and other fixed totals. When Reach was applied to social media impressions, the ability to target available audiences changed. A brand could look beyond a fixed total audience and see Reach increase as a result of the viral sharing of their posts and videos. The only problem was that unlike buying Reach through paid media, achieving organic Reach through social media was unpredictable and couldn't be counted on as a repeatable tactic. Today, attaining significant organic Reach through social media has become even more mysterious due to the frequent changes to the newsfeed algorithms and the filtering out of non-sponsored brand posts on platforms like Facebook.
For brand marketers who are spending more against branded content to be distributed through owned and social channels, this creates a Reach dilemma. We believe that the time is right for a new Reach KPI that better reflects today's opportunities for branded content. While we still want to track Unique Views, the new Reach KPI should also measure resonance which we see as the key to social sharing. It's not enough that the brand or product resonates with the customer, if you want to generate engagement and shares, now the content must resonate too.
A leading indicator of resonance is the Viral Views metric. Viral views are driven by the resonance of the content rather than a relationship with the brand who posted the content. Resonance is the emotional component which is the real ingredient to generating viral views. It is also the first step to harnessing the network effects of social media. Measuring the Viral Views of individual content posts allows brands to track how well different types of content perform. Through A/B headline testing, the use of dark posts and other content optimization methods, it's possible to create repeatable viral success and realize the full potential of the network effect on branded content.
Another update to the Reach KPI should also include measurement of Mobile Views. The increase in mobile consumption of content, both through apps and mobile browsers signifies a huge opportunity to increase Reach. We all know that just creating mobile responsive content and sites is not enough to guarantee success with mobile. More and more consumers expect mobile content to be just as robust and shareable as desktop content. Brands must ensure that their content isn't just viewable on mobile, it has to be actionable as well. Tracking mobile views as a separate metric will help brands to learn how well their content is delivered and consumed on mobile, and how the percentage of mobile views tracks against overall consumer behavior trends.
For brands and other marketers who care about getting the most out of their Content Marketing efforts, we propose the embracing the following metrics for a new Reach KPI:
Unique Views: number of unique views of the content, regardless of platform it's viewed on (owned + social)
Viral Views: number of unique views generated through a referral link, includes dark social referrals
Mobile Views: number of views on a mobile device, regardless of platform it's view on (owned + social, app + browser)
By designing around these principles and optimizing content marketing efforts through better content creation, distribution and measurement, Organic Reach can become your leading growth KPI.