I sat down with Peter Hart, the manager of the Business Analyst at Zignal to discuss the importance of a common metric to measure brand messaging and why companies should count mentions for their brands differently based on where they appear. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation and you can catch a more detailed version in the recording of our webinar on the key metrics for measuring brand health.

Why is it important to have a like for like comparison when comparing key brand messages?

Every brand has different key messages that they want to be known for, yet there needs to be a way to compare these messages in a like for like manner. Zignal has created the Message Impact Index, which ranks stories featuring a brand and a particular key message. This weights the more important stories higher, based on their prominence, reach and redistribution. It then takes the average score from all the stories to give a number providing an overall measurement of all messaging for a particular brand trait.

For any sports fans, we think of it in a similar way to the commonly used metric “Player Efficiency Rating”, or PER for short. PER allows you to compare the effectiveness of players relative to the competition, no matter their position, team, or the number of minutes they play per game in one metric. The Message Impact Index aims to do the same thing with brand messages.

Why it important to distinguish where a mention in an article occurs?

This has a lot to do with how people consume news. The majority of people just read the headline, while a less but a still significant amount pay full attention to the first paragraph. Very few people actually pay close attention to the full article. A mention in the title also indicates a brand is likely the focus of the piece, while a mention closer to the end often means it is just a passing mention. This also goes across platforms. Even though sites like Twitter aren’t as rich with information when compared to news articles, whenever an article is linked through a social media site, the company that’s mentioned in the title is the one that’s referenced in the accompanying message.

Why should brands consider the outlet in which a mention appears when calculating the impact on brand health?

A big national or international outlet is far more important than a small town paper, purely from a visibility standpoint. These big publications also carry more authority. A mention in The Wall Street Journal has a certain cache around it — taking nothing away from reporters at small-town papers, but readers are more likely to believe a story from the WSJ than one from a smaller publication. One nuance to consider when measuring the outlet is some trade publications may matter more to your brand than others, depending on the industry. Brands should identify these and rank them higher than the default. This can be done on the back end by adjusting their ranking to automatically inflate their score.

What is a good way to measure the popularity of articles and why is this important to brands?

Again, this comes down to measuring how many people are actually viewing the content. This metric levels the playing field for smaller publications as it ranks articles based on how well they perform on social media. An article from a small town paper could be very important in the conversation around your brand as this story is actually getting in front of more eyeballs than one from a bigger publication on social media through a combination of likes and shares.

Learn more about how to measure brand health in our webinar recording—The Key Metrics for Measuring Brand Health.