Measurement & Reporting

EMV or VIT? How Top Brands Measure Influencer Marketing

Why marketers are using VIT instead of EMV for influencer marketing
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Measurement & Reporting
EMV or VIT? How Top Brands Measure Influencer Marketing
Learn the definitions of EMV and VIT metrics and discover which one marketers can use to improve their influencer marketing programs.

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Connecting influencer marketing campaign results back to business goals can be complicated. Initiatives are run across multiple platforms with multiple goals, some of which have intangible benefits, like brand awareness. 

Because of this, influencer marketers are always on the lookout for metrics that can simply and accurately indicate effectiveness and progress of their program.

This need for a simplified metric led to a remade version of a PR metric, earned media value (EMV), being adopted by influencer marketing teams. 

In this article, we will describe:

  • The definition of EMV
  • What EMV can and cannot tell you about your influencer marketing success
  • Issues that marketers are experiencing with EMV
  • An alternative influencer marketing metrics called VIT 

What is Earned Media Value (EMV)? 

Earned media value is an attempt to place a monetary value on exposure you gain on third-party sites or social media content through marketing and PR efforts. It provides a false sense of value on the engagement your company has earned through these channels.

EMV is a “born-again version” of Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE) from the old PR world, which attempted to provide the value of an organic mention by translating it into the cost equivalent of buying an advertisement in that newspaper or magazine.

However, AVE’s were ultimately dismissed as meaningless and misleading metrics by the six most respected measurement bodies. 

As one of many examples, The Institute of Public Relations issued a statement about the value of earned media as a metric. "Most reputable researchers view such arbitrary 'weighting' schemes aimed at enhancing the alleged value of editorial coverage as unethical, dishonest and not at all supported by the research literature."

Unfortunately, in the influencer marketing age, EMV has been used by many platforms to help marketers justify their efforts and prove their impact leading to many problems and holding back marketers who want to drive growth and build amazing brands. 

What are the biggest problems with EMV?

EMV is an ineffective metric because it masks the complexity of marketing and prevents sound data-driven decision making. Specifically: 

  • It’s misleading: The dollar value has no connection to ROI or sales. 
  • It lacks insights: It doesn’t guide you to improve your brand’s performance. 
  • It’s inflexible: It measures an awareness campaign the same as it would a product launch. 
  • It’s untargeted: It weighs content the same even if it’s not reaching your audience. 

EMV Does Not Measure ROI 

Sure, it may sound enticing to say that a $10,000 campaign resulted in $1,000,000 in EMV, but the reality is that your brand did not gain a million dollars in value. That million doesn’t correspond to sales or the financial value of your company. It’s assigning a fictitious value to the impressions and engagements you received. Best case you feel good about something that doesn’t matter. Worst case you are wasting marketing dollars without knowing it. 

EMV Is Not Insightful 

EMV creates a false sense of impact which prevents marketing leaders from understanding what investments really do increase, brand recognition, product consideration, website traffic, loyalty, and sales. 

The reality is that influencer marketing is complex. It deserves a measurement system that recognizes the complexity and provides marketers with adequate tools to break down which strategies are helping your business grow

EMV Doesn’t Care What Your Goals Are

EMV’s weakness is that it attempts to provide one metric to rule them all, but it doesn’t give the marketer access to the inputs that drive the score. More, not less, data is required to do the real work to market successfully. 

Your key performance indicators (KPI) must align with your goals. A brand awareness campaign should not be measured the same as a conversion campaign. Individual influencers should be chosen for their ability to deliver the results you seek. And your ability to deliver results requires access to transparent metrics associated with your desired outcomes. 

EMV is Untargeted

In marketing, everything starts with your audience. Who are they? What do they want? Do they care about your brand? If you’re using EMV to measure the success of your influencer marketing program, you’re not understanding if your campaigns are reaching your ideal audience. 

It’s easy to get obsessed with a dollar value, but EMV is leading you astray. There is a better way. 

“Why do we measure anything? To get better. The challenge with EMV is that it puts a dollar on a metric that doesn’t actually measure financial value. For example, if you complete a $10k campaign and receive $1M in EMV, that is quickly seen as ‘we’ve created a million dollars worth of value’ - but that’s not true. Is that million dollars in your sales? Is it the value of your company? The metric doesn’t measure ROI nor does it help you understand what is actually working.” — Evy Lyons, CMO of Traackr

What’s a better alternative to EMV? 

In 2019, Traackr introduced the Brand Vitality Score (VIT) to measure the attention your brand earns among influencers. Specifically, VIT measures the visibility, impact and trust of influencer content mentioning your brand. Our goal was to create a system that will actually help you understand how your influencer marketing campaigns are working and what you can do to improve. 

The score provides the benefits of a single metric, while embracing the complexity and nuance inherent in all marketing. 

VIT is a metric and a method. 

VIT as a metric

VIT is composed of three elements: 

  • Visibility (reach of content),
  • Impact (engagement generated)
  • Trust (quality of content on brand image). 

Each is measured separately and combined to generate a single score. However, each component is accessible to you. By surfacing the levers that impact the score, marketers get the insights they need to improve where it matters most to them. 

You can use VIT to measure the success of a post or campaign, create meaningful brand rankings and improve the reliability of your ROI and investment models.

In our creation of VIT, we’ve conducted extensive R&D to ensure the score correlates to drivers of business growth. Tests run on “influencer marketing-led" brands in the US proved a correlation between VIT and key indicators of marketing success: 

  • engagement on owned social channels
  • website traffic 
  • organic search 

VIT as a method

VIT is more than a single metric. It can be unpacked to figure out which actions will improve your influencer marketing performance. The VIT framework answers questions like: 

  • Are we working with the right influencers? 
  • Are we working with enough influencers? 
  • Are our influencers loyal enough to our brand? 
  • Do we have the right blend of influencers across tiers? 
  • Does our influencer generated content perform well? 
  • How does our performance compare to competitors? 
  • How are top performing brands getting the results they get? 

Unlike EMV, VIT tells you which levers to pull to earn more quality attention from influencers. 

Successful Influencer Marketing Examples

Remember, we created VIT because we believed the influencer marketing industry needed a measurement framework that respected the complexity and nuance inherent in marketing. The reality is there are many paths to success. But if you don’t have transparent and unpackable data, you can’t figure out which path is the best for your brand. 

Brands can generate attention from audiences with completely different strategies. Above is an illustration of two very different influencer marketing strategies that ultimately drive very similar VIT. Brand A engages a large network of influencers, but the content they produce is less efficient. Brand B focuses on a small number of larger tier influencers with strong performance. 

The question isn’t should we do a brand ambassador program or sponsor macro influencers. 

The question is: which strategies are right for your brand (could be both!) and how should you measure the performance of each strategy so you can improve over time? 

Without an influencer marketing platform that can provide you with deep analytics and insightful KPIs, it’s impossible to know what move to make next. VIT solves this for you. 

Here is a story about how Beekman 1802 became one of the top performing skincare brands on TikTok by embracing the VIT methodology. And here is another story about how Shiseido increased their influencer marketing success by 54% in one year - at a time when most makeup brands were struggling. 

How do you move away from EMV? 

Change of any kind is often hard. When you are ready to move away from EMV to VIT, the hardest part can be getting buy-in from stakeholders who have long relied on the flawed metric. The following steps help: 

  1. Provide concrete reasons (see above) why EMV is preventing the business from making better decisions that will drive growth. 
  2. Share stories from industry leaders who have migrated to VIT, embraced VIT as a measurement framework, and are now outperforming the market. 
  3. Complete a lookback analysis with VIT to uncover levers for your growth and implement a few recommendations. Analyze, test, learn. 

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