It’s no easy task keeping on top of media coverage. A brand might
be talked about in an internet chat room, on one of the 242 UK
commercial radio stations, or on a niche satellite TV channel. For PR
agencies, it can be difficult to deliver against the client promise of
comprehensive evaluation across all media channels.
Take the launch of a Virgin Megastore in Glasgow in December. The event
was managed by youth consultancy Cake, which persuaded Spice Girl Mel C,
and Richard Branson to abseil down the front of the store. Pop group
Travis were also recruited and played a free gig in the street - all of
which attracted extensive coverage.
As well as securing space in music titles such as NME and Melody Maker,
the event earned a slot on the Big Breakfast, Channel Five News and BBC
Radio 1. Newspaper coverage ranged from the Financial Times to the News
of the World and all the Scottish daily press. According to Cake, the
campaign cost of pounds 94,000 translated into coverage worth more than
pounds 1.2m over a three-month period. Monitoring was through the
Broadcast Monitoring Company - which works across the Virgin group - and
’It’s a real challenge keeping on top of coverage for an event like
this, especially when regional media is so important,’ says Cake account
director, Clare Craven. ’The client wants feedback the same day, but in
my experience, up to 60% can be missed by media monitoring
For most clients, cost is a major consideration in the evaluation
techniques they use, and many buy in evaluation software packages. One
of the more popular is Cutting Edge, which offers three editions of its
media evaluation system: ’Full Edition’, ’Lite’ and ’Network
Comic Relief used Cutting Edge in the run-up to Red Nose Day 1999 to
analyse the impact of media coverage on the organisation. By judging the
tone of coverage, Comic Relief was able to track which initiatives were
failing to attract attention and which issues were attracting negative
coverage. It evaluated coverage on six key areas: merchandise, TV
initiatives, education, grants (Africa and UK), special projects, public
fundraising and corporate fundraising.
Print is one of a growing number of media channels which needs to be
monitored. With the globalisation of TV news and the growth of digital
channels, monitoring broadcast coverage has become more expensive, and
most companies find themselves going to a broadcast specialist.
Last year, Medialink International launched TeleTrax, an electronic
tagging system to monitor broadcast use of its footage. The company puts
an indelible code on every video it produces and uses a network of
’listening posts’ to monitor the signals of 84 broadcasters across
Europe - set to increase to 100 by March. As soon as any of the
broadcasters show Medialink footage, the company is alerted.
But at the moment, TeleTrax can only confirm that footage has aired, and
is unable to process the tone of the content. Media systems specialist,
Peaktime, goes one step further. Its system, Viewtime, records 18 hours
of primetime viewing a day and displays five channels
This makes it possible to analyse BARB audience data on a
minute-by-minute basis. By examining viewing patterns, users can see
what makes viewers switch on to, or out of, a programme.
But even broadcast coverage is easier to monitor than the internet. At
internet monitoring company Infonic, all relevant content is viewed by
one of the company’s researchers.
’Clients don’t want a data dump; they want internet content monitored
and translated,’ says Roy Lipski, Infonic’s managing director. ’We’re
not a clippings service. We see ourselves as advisers, and so do our
Cost, however, is a major factor for internet evaluation and clients
have to be prepared to set aside a realistic sum if they want detailed
Romeike & Curtice set up its internet monitoring service, Net.cut, in
Net.cut was designed to be used as an early warning service by corporate
communications departments to provide fast notification of unfavourable
comments on the net.
It can monitor internet publications, UK newsgroups and the worldwide
web. The service works on a keyword basis, searching the internet at
night and archiving company mentions. The following morning, the
cuttings are read for key messages before the client is alerted.
Angela Webb, sales and marketing manager at Romeike & Curtice, admits
Net.cut is not yet the perfect evaluation system, but believes the
evaluation industry will have to work together to create a better
’The net is an intensely difficult form of media. Net.cut has already
been upgraded twice because things develop so quickly,’ she says. ’Most
evaluation companies in the UK are looking at production aspects to
discover the next stage.’
The cost of using Net.cut depends entirely on the complexity of the
To monitor internet publications and newsgroups costs about pounds 49.50
a month, with each alert costing an extra pounds 1.
According to leading evaluation companies, market research has an
increasing strategic role to play to determine how different media
interact with each other.
CMS, the company best known for its Precis media analysis product, was
bought by top ten international advertising tracking and research
company, Millward Brown, last December.
Fergus Hampton, chief executive of Millward Brown Precis, said at the
the time that the deal would allow clients to get feedback on how all
the components of their communications mix interact, offering an
integrated set of measurement tools for above- and below-the-line
activity - a tool, finally, capable of a comprehensive evaluation