Cision Digital Reach – Moving Media Measurement Forward

At the end of June Cision put forth an improved concept of their Digital Reach value. The idea is to answer the question of how valuable a site or post is through the number of social shares it garners.

Using an unnamed paid third party vendor (Compete?, Neilsen?, Alexa?, ComScore?, Other?) and various free API’s Cision has employed a statistician to develop a methodology which incorporates unique site visits with social sharing.

Heidi Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Digital Content, reviewed the feature with me which is incorporated into over a quarter million CisionPoint media outlet profiles. She explained “Instead of focusing on a small panel of users, we’re measuring links that have been shared across the entire social web and we are thus able to provide a comprehensive global figure. Additionally, our methodology allows us to provide reach figures for sub-sites, which are often not available through other UVPM (Unique Views Per Month) providers. We look at a sample of sites and examine the relationship between each site’s UVPM and corresponding social media share counts. From that sample, we develop a statistical model that mathematically expressed the relationship between a site’s UVPM and its social media share counts.”

Facts about Digital Reach:

  • Users can request a site be added by contacting customer services or Cision support ( or 800-588-3827) who will turn the request around in about 5 days.
  • There are over a quarter of a million sites currently being tracked
  • The data is surfaced in a few charts right now, but will be expanded in the next few months – see below current and Beta versions Heidi shared.
  • Figures are updated monthly, ensuring data freshness (I recommend that you account for that when you compare month over month values)
  • Cision’s measurement team can also take this data into account in customer custom reports.

The visualization of data is important to the ease of use component of measurement. Here Cision has a few basic charts to start out with:

Cision Analyze1
Standard Analyze chart demonstrating Reach over Time
Standard Analyze chart demonstrating total breakdown for a defined period.


Here we see a couple of BETA charts which are only available to a few select clients for review at this time:

Analyze Beta 2

Analyze Beta 1

Is this the Answer to Impressions and AVE?

According to Heidi: “Digital Reach reflects the way users are actually viewing and sharing content on the web. The concept of “reach” in media measurement is increasingly intertwined with online sharing activity. Social activity such as tweets and Facebook status updates drive a growing portion of web users to the content they choose to look at every day and measures true “action” inspired by a story or site

According to me: No. Nor do I think that is what Cision intended. It might be the leap that some people make though.

It is however a step in the direction of identifying real influence and reach of an article or post. As for AVE it’s like comparing apples to oranges. AVE attempts to place a dollar value on a piece to provide Public Relations teams with an understandable metric when speaking to the business. I mention AVE because this article on Gigaom about Cloud Marketing  closes with “Advertising Currency – Can you believe digital audience measurement still hasn’t shaken out and can’t be compared with TV or print yet?” Why no, no I can’t.

The real golden egg is to understand customer’s recollection to determine reach of content. More on that in a future post.

Does Digital Reach hit the Mark?

As Heidi and I discussed this feature we agreed that this is only one of many pieces of the puzzle to a meaningful measurement program. If boiled down to its lowest denominator this too is only a count. The value is in what this count has the potential to tell you as a corporate communicator in public relations:

  •  Knowing who is sharing your content or your competitor content or industry trends that is being re-shared helps PR figure out who to have conversations with for future campaigns, thought leadership etc.
  •  Knowing how many people viewed a related article or post can provide guidance on where to spend efforts to maintain or increase awareness about the brand.

Kudos to Cision for recognizing and acting on the impression conundrum public relations and corporate communications professionals face; this is certainly moving the conversation forward.

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