Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

A new & simple way to measure social media ROI: Social Equivalent Advertising Value

Mark Henry Central Marketing Director

Brian Harte Head of Customer Engagement & eMarketing

We all know that it‟s no longer the size of your social media audience that matters, but rather how those people engage with you. However, deeper engagement costs money – how can you put a value on the return? Tourism Ireland has invested in building a social media audience of more than 700,000 people across 20 countries and we‟re currently ranked third largest in the world amongst national tourist boards on Facebook. In the absence of an industry standard to measure the value of the interactions that our fans have with us, we created a metric called Social Equivalent Advertising Value (SEAV). We believe that this simple and practical metric has applications across all social media platforms and for all businesses that wish to define their return on investment. You will read inside how it can be applied by you to identify the return your social activities are generating for your brand.


Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

Ever since social media became a natural part of the communications landscape, businesses have invested large amounts of time and money in increasing their reach across high impact social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Up until now, however, we have lacked an accepted industry standard metric that can put a value on more than just the numbers of fans we have in these spaces.

Tourism Ireland is the body responsible for marketing the island of Ireland overseas as a tourist destination, both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We have an annual marketing budget of around €40/$52 million and employ 150 people across a dozen offices around the world, and at home in Dublin and Coleraine.

Our marketing approach is underpinned by a consumer engagement philosophy that seeks to win people‟s attention through marketing activity that talks to their interests and that encourages them to interact with Brand Ireland and with each other. We identified early on that social media offers us exceptional opportunities to deliver engagement marketing and we made a strategic organisational commitment to invest in social platforms – including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and our blog .

We have built a global audience of over 700,000 people in social media across 20 countries in 8 different languages – and currently rank as the third largest national tourist board in the world on Facebook.

Like many consumer brands who do not sell directly to end customers, we lacked a metric that could measure our social media activities in a consolidated manner and allow us to place a monetary value on our return on investment.



Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

What should we be measuring? A tale of Facebook When Facebook hit 750 million users, they didn‟t make a song and dance about it. Why? “Because,” says Mark Zuckerberg, “it‟s not the statistic we think is important…”

“The last five years have been about getting people signed up to Facebook. The next five years are going to be defined by…depth of engagement”2
On Facebook, user engagements with a brand are varied and numerous including brand page views, post views, page likes, content likes, comments and shares, plus views of video, images and audio. These engagements share the characteristic that they involve content consumption and/or broadcast, but they vary in depth.

To meet the need for a measure of return on social investment, any tool must reflect these different levels of consumer engagement and find a means of attributing a financial value to each. In an attempt to do just this, we developed the concept of Social Equivalent Advertising Value (SEAV).

How have we defined SEAV? While social media delivers multiple analytics/insights, value for other e-marketing media vehicles is based on two established measures – Impressions and Click-throughs. Impressions are valued on a cost per thousand basis, the standard for all media. Clickthroughs are valued on a cost per click, the currency for search engine pricing. You can‟t evaluate social media in the same manner on these two measures as it wouldn‟t go near to capturing the full range of conversations or actions taking place. However the concept of impressions and clicks (or actions) is analogous to much social behaviour.

By distilling the range of possible interactions that a user can have with brands on social media channels, we identified that most social engagements could be classified into four simple categories – each designed to distinguish progressively deeper levels of consumer engagement:

1. Post impressions: Views of brand posts in a social medium. 2. Page impressions: Views of a brand owner‟s social platform. 3. Personal actions: Consumption of brand content through an action such as a click on a photo or video or a link.



Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

4. Public actions: Sharing brand content socially through conspicuous consumption, such as by liking or commenting on content in a manner that ensures others can see what you‟ve just done, or proactively recommending content to others.

How our SEAV model is easily applied in Facebook Practically all consumer-brand interactions on Facebook can be mapped onto one of these for categories of social engagement. In addition, the premise of SEAV is to be able to make comparable business and strategy decisions regardless of whether the platform is social media or any other form of marketing. Ensuring that the values assigned to social media „match‟ those assigned to other channels is therefore key to creating the SEAV model.

As we believe that there are reasonable equivalents in terms of investment required by a brand owner to drive consumers to different levels of engagement, we can apply the cost of an equivalent non-social e-marketing activity to each of our four categories.

1. Post impressions: This is defined as an opportunity to view a brand post, either on a branded space or on a personal space. We believe that this is broadly equivalent to the viewing of one item on a brand ezine that the consumer has opened. If, say, there are typically five items in your ezine, the cost/value assigned to viewing one social post is a fifth of the cost of broadcasting an opened ezine to one individual. 2. Page impressions: This is defined as viewing a brand space. We believe this to be the equivalent of exposure to a full page of brand messaging in an opened ezine, with the equivalent cost/value being that of broadcasting this to an individual. 3. Personal actions: This is defined as the consumer clicking to view an image or video in a post. We believe that an equivalent cost/value is that of viewing a YouTube Promoted Video. 4. Public actions: This is defined as the sharing of any item, whether through a like or comment – and is therefore equivalent to Facebook‟s „Talking About This‟ number. We attribute this as having the cost/value equivalent of a Google paid search click. The parallel is that the consumer is engaged enough in the topic to take a specific action on foot of the content presented, which, in turn, is related to an expressed interest in the topic in hand.

To collate the identified metrics for Facebook, we use a tool called NextAnalytics , which is a plug-in for Excel. It allows you to extract data from Facebook Insights, and once in Excel you can calculate SEAV using simple formulae based on your assigned equivalent cost/value of the social interaction.



Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

Based on the cost of our own activity in the tourism marketing sector, Tourism Ireland has identified the following costs/values for each engagement level: Post impressions/view of one item out of five in an opened ezine = €0.007 Page impressions/cost of broadcasting an opened ezine = €0.033 Personal actions/YouTube promoted video cost = €0.20 Public actions/Google paid search click = €0.20

Every organisation can use this identical model but the cost/values applicable will vary in the same way that the value of a customer and the cost of customer acquisition differ between businesses and industry types.

Applying our values to the engagement data from our USA Facebook page during the month of December produced a monthly SEAV figure of almost €59,000/$77,000. Multiplying this figure by 12 gives us an annualised SEAV run rate of over €700,000/$925,000 for our USA presence. Applying the same model across all of our global pages gives Tourism Ireland an annualised SEAV of over €1.7/$2.2 million in Facebook alone.

Using SEAV, we now have a Facebook evaluation measure that goes beyond the number of „fans‟ and monetises the value of the consumer engagement we are achieving.
It’s not all about Facebook While the above example is specific to Facebook, the SEAV model can accommodate other social media activity on any other platform. For example the same principles apply when assessing customer engagement on Pinterest where page impressions apply to your brand presence, personal actions to engagement with your content there, and public actions when your content is shared with other consumers. Likewise on YouTube, views of your brand channel, views of your video content and commenting and sharing all fit directly into the SEAV model.

So how does SEAV deliver organisational benefits? Calculating SEAV for your business enables you to place a tangible value on all your organisation‟s online marketing activities, now including social media. This calculation can be used to quantify campaign objectives and targets. It can be used to assess the return on campaign activity. It can demonstrate the value of increasing your social audience and the initiatives you take to deepen your engagement with them. It can become an organisational Key Performance Indicator that speaks to internal audiences who need to know the financial return of marketing activity. And the good news is that it can be created from information readily available on Facebook Insights.


Tourism Ireland Social Equivalent Advertising Value

In Tourism Ireland we have adopted SEAV as an organisational KPI and have set a significantly increased target for each of our local Facebook presences for 2012 based on the run rate we had achieved by the end of 2011. We are seeking to achieve this both by continuing to grow our fanbase and by continuing to deepen our engagement with „fans‟. We calculate SEAV on a monthly basis to monitor progress across all our various audiences and throughout our various geographical markets.

The net result of introducing this new approach is that it represents all actions and interactions on social media and can be applied by any organisation. For Tourism Ireland, we have always put an emphasis on engaging with fans and welcoming them to our Facebook pages, so creating a way to analyse and measure our engagement in a more comprehensive and consolidated manner is a natural progression.

The next phase of development The Social Equivalent Advertising Value model is new and we view it as in the early stages of development. We invite others to apply the model to their social data and to share the learnings that result.

There are undoubtedly ways to improve and strengthen it. How can it be blended with web analytics to capture Click-throughs to other brand platforms, for example? The model currently double counts post impressions gained from engaging with a brand page – is that a fair and valid view of the greater depth of engagement realised in these places or is it a flaw that needs to be ironed out?

There are also as yet unexplored opportunities to apply the model in other ways. In the wider PR environment, identifying an Equivalent Advertising Value for online PR has proved difficult. How can SEAV be extended to place a value on that also?

Let us know your thoughts about SEAV and your experiences of it at


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