Marketers See Retail Media As 2023’s Most Effective Digital Channel

While only 22 percent of American digital advertisers used retail media as a part of their strategy in 2022, per Statista, many marketers are changing their view of its bottom-funnel capabilities. While analysts predict digital ad spending will grow by just 7.8 percent this year, retail media network spending is projected to rise by 9.9 percent, per RetailWire, with retail media ad sales projected to soar by 19.7 percent per eMarketer. A recent report by LiveIntent based on a survey of over 200 U.S. marketers revealed that most respondents are now bullish on retail media and plan to shift their budgets toward retail media networks.

Marketers Want More Retail Media Inventory And Measurement Capabilities

According to LiveIntent’s “The 2023 Retail Media Market Report: Unlocking Adoption, Mastering Best Practices, Overcoming Challenges & Driving Performance,” 63 percent of marketers surveyed stated that they saw retail media advertising as more effective than other digital channels, with 73 percent saying that they planned to increase investment in 2023.

According to the report, marketers saw retail media networks as a locus of new opportunities to engage audiences and glean valuable insights. Per the survey findings:

  • Seventy percent of advertisers believe retail media networks will likely increase customer engagement and sales for retailers. 
  • Sixty-five percent of retailers think that retail media can provide them with expanded revenue opportunities for advertising and sponsorship.
  • Fifty-six percent of retailers see retail media as a significant source of first-party data to support a user experience personalization strategy.
  • Forty-five percent of retailers believe building the employment of retail media will be first-party data as third-party cookies become obsolete.

Approximately 60 percent of advertisers planned to use retail media networks to target customers with discounts, deals, and relevant search ads. Another 43 percent planned to use retail media content with AR or VR content.

Advertisers also stated they want access to more video (64 percent) and connected TV and streaming (57 percent) options. That tracks with recent findings from Insider Intelligence which reports that by 2024, retail media will be the fastest-growing ad format, outpacing linear TV ad spending by 2025.

There’s also a lot to love with respect to retail media’s access to consumer data, according to marketers surveyed by LiveIntent. Logged-in consumers opt-in to data sharing while on retail sites. This makes targeted and audience analytics simple for retailers and brand marketers. It allows them to harvest consumer preferences, purchase, and search consumers that can direct and enrich real-time targeting and optimize user experiences.

Fifty-six percent of marketers surveyed believe retail media will lead to more relevant and engaging deal offers, and 59 percent of respondents believe retail media can also enhance in-store consumers’ shopping experiences. But there are caveats. While retail media networks can earn a profit margin of as much as 80 percent from ad sales, 44 percent of advertisers in the LiveIntent report cited problems with accurate campaign measurement as an ongoing issue. That’s a powerful motivation for retail media networks to relentlessly promote their channels even when they cannot offer marketers the tools they need to drill down and examine granular performance insights.

“Many of our clients are spending a lot of money advertising on retail media networks (RMNs) – especially on retail search channels,” According to April Carlisle, EVP of Spark Foundry, speaking to Ad Exchanger, “But they’re still just hitting the same households.”  

As the number of RMNs grows, marketers are faced with a lot of choices, but the need for better results may be driving brand marketers to use a wide range of networks in a trial-and-error fashion, even when performance is lackluster. 

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Source: McKinsey & Company

Marketers Now Use Multiple Retail Media Networks To Drive Sales

According to a recent report by The Association of National Advertisers, 75 percent of advertisers using retail media networks (RMNs) cite driving new sales as their most crucial goal in using RMNs, with fifty-six percent employing five or more retail media networks (RMNs) and 40 percent use five to nine different RMNs. Sixteen percent use ten or more RMNs.

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Source: McKinsey & Company

 “As budgets get cut,” the report quotes one survey respondent, “RMN programs have remained largely intact. This is shifting the balance of our overall marketing budget from building brand equity to driving product sales.” The report states that fifty-eight percent of advertisers surveyed expect to be using more RMNs than they are today by 2024, and 73 percent expect to be spending “somewhat or significantly more” on RMNs than they did in 2022.

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Source: ANA

While brand marketers are looking at traditional metrics like return on advertising spend (ROAS), they are also looking at other metrics that offer deeper insights, such as “new-to-brand,” to assess which RMNs drive the highest sales and awareness.

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Source: Statista

The Takeaway for Marketers: As behemoths like Walmart expand their RMNs, marketers are shifting spending toward retail media for its bottom-funnel capabilities and access to first-party data from logged-in users. Yet advertisers need more certainty in determining which RMN will offer the best value over time. Because the marketplace is fragmented, access to accurate real-time performance data will be vital in avoiding wasted spend. Marketers should also attempt to leverage tools to compare historical and current results between RMNs over time. Incremental sales can be an essential revenue source. Logged-in RMN consumers may scale their purchasing behavior as marketing content stokes engagement. However, marketers may miss opportunities to convert them without access to a comprehensive, multi-platform analytics tool.

How Max’s ‘Succession’ Won Earned Media And Boosted Its Ad-Supported Tier

Since its debut in 2018, Max’s drama series “Succession” has been one of the most-covered television series in the last few years, with over a thousand articles covering the finale alone.

While Max still has fewer ad-supported tier subscribers than other networks, it has a powerful pitch as a destination for prestige advertisers seeking the attention of affluent customers. That’s because earned media value (EMV) can serve as a barometer for advertisers, showing them the best place to invest their budgets to reach targeted audiences.

Source: MediaPlay News

Source: MediaPlay News

Decoding Succession’s Earned Media Surge

Succession’s buzz continues to surge, even when many of those articles, as Axios points out, fall well below the readership of posts about less trendy shows, like “Young Sheldon.” But the show’s earned media power is not only based on its cool factor: the show’s appeal to publishers may play a role in a surge in advertising dollars that have funneled into Max’s new ad-supported subscriber tier. That rise signals Max’s new efforts to appeal to advertisers may be working—and earned media is likely playing a powerful role in that success.

Advertisers covet Max’s core demographic, which since 2020 has earned the loyalty of adults aged 22-44 as well as more affluent households. In its first quarter report for the year, Warner Bros. announced WBD was the “most-watched Total TV linear portfolio among 25-54.”

Source: Axios

(Advertisers’) Money Wins: How Earned Media Drives Value

Source: YouTube

HBO saw a 29 percent surge in advertising revenue in the first quarter, along with 1.6 million new subscribers, driven by its ad-supported tier, per Warner Bros. Discovery. The brand also decreased its operating expenses by 24 percent and its cost of revenue by 8 percent over the previous quarter—meaning the company is doing everything possible to optimize spending while cutting costs.

Yet with “Succession”’s finale, Max brought in just two sponsors, Mercedes-Benz and Vital Farms; the latter of which presented a 15-second pre-roll video highlighting the brand’s ESG commitments in a spot called “Keeping It Bullsh*t Free.” That limited inventory model may mean that Max focuses on the appeal of high-impact, long-play ads tied to content that packs a similar powerful punch.

“What we thought was really interesting is that we have this [ad] spot that talks about corporate bullshit, and here is a show that is about corporate bullshit, and what an interesting juxtaposition we could create,” Vital Farms CMO Kathryn McKeon told Modern Retail. “And what a bold way of bringing an unexpected brand into a new advertising platform. So, not only was it interesting to be one of the first to try from a pure media standpoint, but the storylines and the interest of that tension made it so much richer of a place for us to bring our message.”

That appeal to advertisers is nowhere more evident than in Succession’s ability to garner social media engagement that is equivalent to a significant ad spend, even after the show is over.

For example, using Social Index, a tool that allows marketers to calculate dollar equivalencies for social media value, we see that a single finale highlight post generated over $66,000 in earned media value through audience engagement. 

(Subscribers) Are Not Serious People

The ability to calculate earned media has another significant role in driving revenue— keeping a channel or a popular show top of mind. As consumers discuss and interact with content around specific programming, the ability to calculate EMV allows marketers advertising on streaming services to identify new opportunities to stoke engagement and support new shows that might reach similar audiences. That’s a powerful strategy for advertisers seeking to connect with targeted audiences when popular shows like Succession end. Calculated EMV allows marketers to determine which streaming service offers content targeted audiences care about.

For example, using Social Index, we calculated that a recent YouTube post generated over $150k in EMV, representing the same amount in equivalent advertising value.

The ability to calculate EMV is also critical for marketers seeking clarity over the range of choices when selecting a streaming channel to support—for example—when marketers attempt to gauge the value of staying with Max as it transitioned from HBO to an expanded roster. 

EMV: Money Still Wins

Succession’s patriarch Logan Roy’s nihilistic catchphrase “money wins” often applies to how CMOs invest their streaming advertising budgets with networks that have popular shows that offer consistent earned media opportunities. As consumers view and share content around Succession and journalists cover the show, advertisers may gain new exposure as sponsors or direct advertisers. 

That’s a win-win for networks like HBO that need to not only hold on to existing subscribers and draw new ones but also prove to marketers that they can provide new opportunities to reach audiences beyond the viewers of top shows like Succession and The Last of Us.

As HBO became Max and added Discovery+ to its roster, it also gained lots of reality and family-oriented programming, which gives marketers new opportunities to reach audiences beyond fans of the former HBO’s prestige dramas. As Logan Roy famously said of his feckless children, subscribers are fickle and constantly searching for the next shiny object. That’s one reason HBO is promoting its war on “churn”—the phenomenon of consumers subscribing to watch a specific show and leaving when it’s over. Churn can hurt advertisers because consumers are attached to the show, not the network. Without the right mix of engaging content, networks lose subscribers or simply get a ton of trial subscribers who never pay and stay long enough to generate trackable engagement for brands.

“The real challenge is the churn,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said as he and CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels outlined plans to take Max to the promised land of profitability by next year. “With churn, it’s very difficult to build a strong business.”

Discovery+, launched in January 2021, has had a low churn rate. HBO Max, which launched in May 2020: not so much.

“Driving (down) that churn may be more important than driving the growth. If we can drive down the churn, the growth will be very substantial,” Zaslav said in a statement reported by Variety. “The more people that use it in the family, the more, the more engaged people are, the broader the offering, the lower the churn.”

The Takeaway For Marketers:

Max will offer many new opportunities for marketers to reach its niche, affluent and wider audiences through its combination of general interest shows and prestige programming. But finding where to direct your spending can be challenging since HBO/Max and Discovery+ content can be found on multiple platforms. One simple way to evaluate a potential spending choice is to look at the earned media surrounding specific programming, like “Succession” and its ilk.

Look for passionate fans but also coverage across publications that reach specific audiences—publishers are reading the analytics too, and coverage of shows that connect with findings from their first-party audience data tend to reflect what their readers want. So WSJ and Vanity Fair homages to “Succession” make a lot of sense if you read the data, even if the show’s actual viewership was much less than “House of the Dragon.” Once you know what your audience is saying on social media and the messaging that they engage with around specific programs, you’ll have meaningful insights for your creative and where your campaign should land. Learn more about earned media valuation and how Social Index makes it possible.

Podcasts Deliver On ROI And Engagement: Here’s How To Launch Your Strategy

Even in the midst of uncertainty, podcasts are providing brand marketers with new opportunities to drive ROI and engage new audiences. In this post, we’ll review some ways marketers can leverage the format to build engagement in creative ways.

Podcast ad revenues are expected to top $2.28 billion in the US in 2023 per Variety, a leap of 25 percent over 2022 spending. There’s good reason for advertisers’ confidence. A recent survey of 1,200 podcast listers showed that 95 percent of American consumers took relevant action after hearing a podcast ad, and 88 percent of Canadian listeners did as well, per MediaPost. Consumers are also listening longer to podcasts this year. According to The Infinite Dial Report by Edison Research in March:

  • Fifty-three percent of Americans aged 12-54 have listened to a podcast in the last month. 
  • Weekly podcast listeners heard an average of nine podcast episodes in the last week, up from eight podcasts in 2022. 
  • Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults who have ridden in a car in the last month say they listen to podcasts in the car, up from 32 percent in 2022.
  • Weekly podcast listeners hear an average of 9 hours of podcasts per week, with millennials leading all other groups with an average of just under 10 hours per week.
Source: The Infinite Dial Report

But it isn’t just that consumers are listening to more podcasts for longer periods of time, advertisers are seeing extraordinary ROI, according to a recent report by Acast.

Over 87 percent of podcast advertisers reported that they earned between $4 and $6 for every dollar spent on podcast ads.

Source: Acast, Podcast’s Return on Ad Spend, 2023

Those results could relate to how consumers are listening to podcast ads. A recent survey of 39k podcast listeners by DISQO revealed that 45 percent of daily listeners stated that they paid more attention to podcast ads than those they encountered on other media, per Inside Radio.

Source: DISQO

In addition, an earlier survey by Acast showed that 95 percent of podcast listeners are more likely to consider a product in a podcast that captures their interest, and 92 percent of listeners said the content of the podcast is important they consider a product. According to the report, 95 percent of American podcast listeners have taken an action as a result of podcast advertising and 97 percent of frequent listeners have researched a product or purchased a product because of a mention heard on a podcast.

How To Start: Develop A CX-Focused Podcast Strategy

Your targeted audience members are potential customers, yes—but they’re listening for the podcast content, not your ad. Think about how your ad might impact their customer experience as “buyers” of the podcast and potential consumers of your product or service.

Ask yourself:

Is our brand right for this audience? Audiences have strong feelings about the podcast content that they choose to consume – for subscribers and faithful weekly listeners, podcasts can be an important part of their social, cultural, or political identity. Be sure that your brand connects with your audience on an authentic level.

Does this network or podcast reflect our brand’s ethos? Consumers tend to respond more favorably to messaging from brands associated with podcasts or podcast hosts that they support. Your ad spend is best spent in an environment where audiences which will be receptive to your brand’s mission.

Is our messaging relevant? As a marketer, you’re used to translating big questions like “Why does it matter?” into compelling creative, but for podcasts, there’s a lot more at risk because of the potentially huge rewards. Leverage research to build an accurate portrait of what matters to the podcast’s audience in practical terms and craft your messaging to connect with those values, preferences, and needs explicitly while respecting the context of the message.

Even if you’ve never thought about podcast advertising, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Think about the consumer as an audience member first: Podcast listeners are often multi-tasking and engaged in an activity that they’d like to be distracted from, like doing chores. Your ads should amplify their enjoyment of the podcast by either leveraging a familiar voice from the podcast or using creative to make the transition to an ad less jarring. For example, popular podcasts like Welcome To Night Vale, Morbid, and No Such Thing As a Fish feature cast members telling personal anecdotes about sponsor products that feel more like a behind-the-scenes aside than a commercial break.
  • Deliver value that feels native within the context: Because consumers are actively listening but often engaged in another task, their willingness to tolerate interruptions may be higher, but they might also be more annoyed with ads that feel out of place with the tone and experience of the show and don‘t offer something valuable in return. For many podcasts, the easiest way to do this is to incentivize immediate action with a unique offer that not only delivers valuable metrics on engagement but also provides a reason for audience members to keep the volume up for the next ad in hopes of an intriguing deal. 
  • Think about long-term brand alliances: When your ad appears on a show or network with a deep fan base or an audience aligned with programming because of cultural or other affinities your brand can tap into that genuine desire to support the brand. A survey by National Public Media, for example, revealed that 61 percent of NPR podcast listeners preferred to buy from brands that sponsored their favorite NPR shows. When appropriate, connect your brand’s mission with the audience’s desire to support their favorite podcast in a tangible way.
  • Stay on top of the data: Per the latest research, look for opportunities with smaller podcasts, be flexible with ad frequency, and use podcast advertising at both ends of the funnel.

What Marketers Can Learn From Post Malone’s Earned Media Value Success

For marketers, decoding the true value of social media interactions and PR coverage can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll be using Social Index to calculate the monetary value of any tweet, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat or YouTube post. Social Index calculates values using a proprietary algorithm to attach a specific monetary value per view, impression, like, comment—or customized selection of any combination of interactions.

Tracking A $680k Post

Post Malone may be the most well-known celebrity Magic: The Gathering fan, and certainly one of the most valuable to the brand in terms of user engagement. In 2022, Malone announced a challenge in which any player who could beat him at the game would earn a $100k reward. The event was live-streamed, with one fan beating Post Malone and winning the reward before an enthusiastic global audience.

But before the tournament, Malone’s Magic: The Gathering’s social post announcing the event delivered over $650k in earned media value for the sponsoring brand. Malone leveraged his considerable social media fan base and drove coverage that drove sales and repeat engagement for the brand well after the event. 

That’s a strategy that any marketer or PR professional could adopt, but in order to identify the true value of any new social media or PR strategy, you have to start with measurement.

The ability to attach a specific value to a social activation makes it easier to adjust content or PR strategy to focus on channels that deliver the best ROI. It also helps marketers redirect their influencer budgets toward creators capable of delivering high-value content.

Measuring Social Media Accurately Allows Marketers To Direct Engagement Where Fandom Can Drive Revenue

Social media engagement—and the ability to measure it—can be critical for brand marketers whose brand, like Magic: The Gathering, has the potential to tap into a devoted fan base and promote DTC or other online direct sales.

Hasbro, which owns Magic: The Gathering, had a challenging Q1, with revenues declining by 14 percent year-over-year—a figure which made MTG’s earnings growth – 16 percent year-over-year—even more crucial for the company. MTG’s over $1 billion in sales, per The New York Times, surpassed those of pop culture icons like G.I. Joe and Transformers. While MTG cards can run to over $800k on the resale market, MTG’s revenue lift wasn’t dependent on collectors with deep pockets, but casual Magic: The Gathering players who can spend approximately $1000 for a popular 60-card deck.

Source: MTG Goldfish
Source: Hasbro

Here are four reasons why the right measurement tools are essential for marketers seeking to drive customer engagement with 

Per-action measurement allows brands to quickly assimilate new ROI data and shift strategy quickly

When Post Malone’s MTG post drove engagement around the upcoming tournament, social media or PR strategists could easily focus on engaging with those audiences, sharing Malone’s content across other channels, and providing links to product pages. 

Social Index allows users to compare social media values across multiple channels

Social Index calculates total per-action value for multiple platforms – allowing marketers to compare an Instagram strategy with a TikTok launch and a Facebook post, among other channels. That means each social activation can be compared with paid media effectiveness in a single report, making budget optimization a much simpler task.

Here are some examples:

  • A single Instagram post by Malone, which gained over 679k likes, generated earned media value of over $622k.
  • A Tweet with about 1200 shares produced almost 21k in earned media value.
  • An hour-long video featuring Malone playing with new cards from a recently released set garnered one million views and earned over $330k in earned media value.
  • Another YouTube video, with over 2.4 million views, earned over $792k in earned media value. 

Measuring social media value per interaction and view can help stretch ad budgets

As marketers face increasing ROI pressure, the ability to get more for less becomes a critical mission. A post that delivers as much or more value than paid media can provide an opportunity for brands to redirect spending toward influencers or creators who can drive direct sales or draw audiences to virtual events at a lower cost. Finding that perfect balance between high-value social engagement and paid media requires a tool that offers granular per-action insights.

Powerful single-post content can be repurposed and reshared—creating new ways to reignite audience engagement

There’s no reason that a post that saves the brand hundreds of thousands in ad spend has to be a one-off. Social Index allows marketers and PR strategists to identify their most valuable single posts across any time period and identify the components that delivered the highest overall level of engagement or a specific type of engagement sought.

 What Social Index Offers:

  • EMV Engine and algorithm refinement for improved accuracy​
  • Dashboard and EMV Visualizer​
  • Global EMV for key NA, EMEA, APAC countries​
  • Daily EMV updates​
  • EMV lookback window with 19+ months of historical values​
  • 1M+ values across 9 top industry verticals​
  • Values for 7 top social platforms – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube​

Learn more about how Social Index can help you optimize your social, PR, or media strategy.

NewFronts: Streams Lean In On New Options For Brand Marketers

As leading streamers face revenue challenges, top platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix are leaning into new ad strategies, offering new opportunities for brand marketers as competitor FAST channels see gains.

Amazon Brand Marketers With New Measurement Tools

“Advertisers are navigating a myriad of challenges—media fragmentation, ad identifier loss, incomplete insights, measurement complexity…” said Colleen Aubrey, SVP of Ad Products and Tech, Amazon Ads in a company press release. “Our NewFront illustrated how our premium content across a wide range of Amazon properties, combined with advanced campaign planning and measurement solutions, bridges content to commerce—so that customers can easily move from enjoying their favorite movie or music to buying their favorite product or service.”

Amazon’s new push to appeal to marketers includes the integration of geo-customizable and advanced audience targeting capabilities for advertisers during Thursday Night Football broadcasts. In addition, Amazon Live will now produce shoppable livestream content in collaboration with publishers and media brands, not just influencers. This represents Amazon’s deeper push towards shoppable entertainment, as customers with the integration of livestream shoppable content from Tastemade and REVOLT. 

Amazon also announced VideoAmp and iSpot were announced as new streaming TV measurement services available to advertisers seeking to measure cross-screen impressions in addition to the first-party measurement options available within Amazon Ads.

Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) Audiences also launched at NewFronts, a “clean room” based measurement option allowing advertisers to integrate their data with Amazon signals to review multichannel customer journey insights. From the clean room, advertisers can review and use them to adjust their Amazon Demand-Side Platform (DSP) audience-buying choices automatically.  

What It Means For Marketers:

Amazon’s new options mean that brands have greater control over ad choices but many of the new measurement capabilities will keep them rooted in the Amazon ecosystem, even when their data comes from external sources. Amazon is making its ecosystem more inviting for brands, but it faces pressure from competitors seeking to draw brands in with better audience management or ad targeting options. That means Amazon may continue to enhance its ad-targeting offerings to match competitors like Roku. 

Roku Launches AI-Powered Tools For Marketers

“Roku is not fighting for turf in the streaming wars,” said Charlie Collier, Roku’s president per Deadline. “Roku is the turf. The streaming wars are not happening to Roku. We’re not in the streaming wars. The streaming wars are playing out on our platform.”

Collier’s confidence is likely tied to Roku’s efforts to draw in brands with a guarantee: that advertisers with Roku will reach bigger primetime audiences with their service than through cable. While that promise might be hard actually to measure, since the idea of a “primetime” audience has been muddied due to streaming, there’s something there. Brands are looking to new players to reach audiences that are streaming much more than they are sitting in front of the TV at a set time. The TV ad market has been shrinking since 2021, and brands are looking for options that give them audiences—wherever they might be.

That may be why Roku has launched a context-focused ad product. Roku’s offering uses AI to automatically run relevant ads next to moments in TV shows and movies, allowing brand marketers to “iconic plot moments” that align with brand messaging. Adding to the sweetener, Roku is also offering brands real estate on its iconic homepage – ostensibly allowing them to offer links to content or retail experiences that brands on demand can customize.

What It Means For Marketers

Roku—with almost 72 million subscribers per Statista—has added more than $20 million subscribers over the last two years, but its revenue declined by $70 million in 2022 over 2021. That tracks with Roku’s effort to raise its profile and offer tools that make ad targeting more precise and customizable. As Roku ramps up its efforts to become more attractive to brands, new opportunities to leverage content-driven contextual marketing may arise.

The takeaway? It’s a buyer’s market. Brand marketers can easily create solutions that match their objectives with better audience analytics and ad targeting tools. With so many choices, marketers can afford to diversify their marketing strategies between major platforms as the streaming wars continue.

Banking On Buzz: How The Met Gala Unlocks Crucial ROI

With higher stakes than ever, the most recent Met Gala reportedly generated over $1 billion in earned media value (EMV) for brands—but how much did The Met itself, under pressure to boost its $329 million annual revenue to keep up with inflation, benefit from its signature event?

How The Met Leverages Likes To Drive Millions In Retail Sales

Until 2022, The Met was America’s most visited museum—in 2019, nearly 4.9 million visitors passed through its doors. Since 1948, The Met Gala has galvanized New York society, combining disparate celebrity culture segments with denizens of the City’s most rarified philanthropy circles. The goal to drive awareness of the institution and boost retail sales has become even more urgent post-pandemic since The Met’s visitor rates have dropped dramatically as New York City tourism fluctuated between 2020 and 2023. This tourism dip impacted every New York museum, but The Met is an institution with a global pop culture profile, synonymous with the marketing of New York as a city and a brand. For example, in 2015, just three exhibits generated $946 million in spending in New York City, per the museum. That power to draw tourists to Museum Mile means that the Met’s marketing success is heavily interdependent with New York City’s ability to market itself to tourists and keep them engaged.

Yet, as The Met faced the potential of inflationary concerns further depressing tourism in 2022, the brand’s retail push resulted in sales that far surpassed earnings from fluctuating visitor admissions. Although the Met saw fewer visitors in 2022 than before the pandemic, its retail sales and other paid activities far surpassed its membership and admissions earnings—moving the museum closer to addressing its pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls.

That means that brand awareness and earned media are critical for The Met, especially when retail sales are a significant portion of the institution’s revenue strategy. Fortunately for The Met, retail revenue has soared between 2020 and 2022, with retail and other auxiliary activities earnings going from $24.64 million in 2020 to $45.59 million in 2022, per Statista. That’s been accompanied by a surge in admissions and memberships post-pandemic, but retail remains the biggest source of income under endowments and grants.

That makes The Met Gala the institution’s biggest annual opportunity to leverage earned media to drive the kind of brand awareness that can lift retail sales and inspire tourism.

Per ComScore, this year’s gala generated 285 million total actions on content mentioning the event, with 916 million total video views across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. On the night of the event, the hashtag #MetGala drove more than 3.4 million mentions.

But how much does that matter to The Met’s brand awareness?

Per Social Index, the most liked recent Instagram share from The Met’s Instagram account as of May 8 generated over $241K in earned media value (EMV) for The Met, even though actor Pedro Pascal cheekily wore Valentino (which gained 39K likes from a similar share) to the Karl Lagerfeld-themed event. Within one week, a search for “Pedro Pascal Met Gala” yielded 6,690 news items. While Pascal promoted The Met Gala’s event with just one post from his Instagram profile nearly a week after the event, the post featuring his Met Gala outfit earned 1.3 million likes, doubling the attention garnered for his post promoting his Mandalorian return this March. That suggests that Pascal may have benefited from his Met Gala appearance as much as The Met did— and that extra attention might also drive new fans to other platforms like Disney+ or HBO, where Pascal stars in The Mandalorian and The Last of Us.

The Met Gala’s star power was also evident on other platforms, like Facebook. A single Facebook Reel share highlighting Jeremy Pope’s homage to Karl Lagerfeld provided The Met with over $29K in EMV, with just 709 shares.

As with influencers— The Met’s brand profile can drive retail sales.

Per Statista, 2022’s retail earnings for the Met almost doubled 2020’s earnings after the return of live events, as consumers, fans, and locals bought Met-branded products from the on-site store and online, which ranges from prints to household décor to books, online and in-person.

The Met’s marketing prowess in promoting its Gala likely plays a significant role in driving ROI for the museum at a critical juncture in its history. And one simple way The Met may be stretching its marketing budget is by allowing influencers, actors, and controversy to fly free on its social channels, thereby boosting its earned media value without paying for a single display ad.

Last year’s Met Gala raised $17.4 million for the museum, and this year’s revenue has not yet been revealed. But whatever this year’s event earned the Met in ticket sales and donations, it will be enhanced by the value of the media attention generated by the celebs, the controversy, and the brands highlighted on the red carpet.

The Takeaway For Marketers:

The success of The Met’s powerful global brand depends on tourism and retail sales. Like any brand, its goal is to drive awareness, optimize conversions and keep fans engaged. One of the easiest ways to do that is to build earned media value: allowing the press, fans, and social platforms to share brand messaging, images, and user-generated content that bolsters brand recognition and drives clicks. Accurately measuring what’s working and comparing it against what’s not is key to building a cost-effective earned media strategy.

Coachella Recap: Navigating The Influencer-Earned Media Mess

Earned media can be a complex topic, especially for brands that grow with audience engagement. If it’s “free,” how much should you pay an influencer to generate it? And if you do pay, how can you tell where to direct your efforts?

Take Coachella, for example.


For 24 years, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has grown its brand through earned media—first as a reflection of emergent youth culture and now as a hub of the creator economy. With tickets now topping $500 and global stars like BLACKPINK headlining sold-out performances, Coachella the festival is now generating hundreds of millions in revenue annually, and its global status means creators have numerous opportunities to collaborate with the brand. 

However, the value of specific types of influencer content has been called into question, as some influencers in 2022 and 2023 were reportedly charging as much as $2,000 per Instagram post to mention the event—and sometimes leaving early

That brings us back to value. How can you really determine how much an influencer relationship, Tweet, or Instagram post is actually worth—and who should be sharing it? 

What is Earned Media Value?


While most marketers know that earned media is the publicity and attention a brand receives through channels that are not paid for, tracking it and then attaching a monetary value to that media is more complex. 

That’s a problem because earned media is often considered more authentic and credible than paid advertising by consumers. When you have access to a tool that allows you to measure the value of earned media, you can:

  • Discover the right influencers and brand advocates: By monitoring EMV, you can identify key influencers and advocates that are engaging in conversations with their followers about relevant products or services and bring them into your fold. 
  • Improve segmentation: EMV data can provide valuable information about the characteristics of the audience engaging with specific content. As you drill down into comments, likes, and shares, you can adjust your strategy based on new insights into your audience’s preferences.
  • Optimize owned-channel impact: By understanding which owned channels are generating the highest EMV, you can add content to owned channels that will drive traffic while amplifying brand awareness and providing new opportunities to share content.

Calculating earned media value entails more than just counting likes, shares, and comments; it means transforming that data into a clear monetary value that can inform decision-making.

Accurate EMV measurement can help you:

Enrich Third-Party Audience Analytics: Earned media value measurement data can enhance the accuracy of audience insights from third-party audience analytics tools. Integrating EMV into your third-party analytics suite can provide a more holistic view of your marketing, branding, or sales performance by showing how much you could save (or how much you are losing) with a particular media strategy and revealing where targeted audiences are most engaged.

Benchmark against competitors: EMV measurement allows brands to compare their performance with competitors in terms of organic audience reach and engagement. That means you can use EMV data to estimate how much value in monetary terms competitors have gained from their media strategy and set your earned media goals accordingly.

Inform future media strategies: Access to EMV data can help you fine-tune influencer partnership strategy so that you can create the most long-term value. You can optimize your spending around long-term engagement goals with accurate, day-to-day information on the earned media channels producing the most value.

Using Social Index to Calculate Earned Media Value

It’s incredibly simple. Social Index calculates a monetary value per like, share, comment, and view and instantly shows you where your efforts deliver the most value.

Just plug the latest numbers from Social Index into the Earned Media Value calculator and discover which channels can reveal your highest potential ROI.

Here’s an example using BLACKPINK:

Full values for TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube are unlocked with a subscription to Social Index., along with access to the Earned Media Value calculator.
Full daily values for TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube are unlocked with a subscription to Social Index.

The Results

Based on BLACKPINK’s over two million impressions from a single Facebook post, they generated $819K VPV (Value per View) and $63K VPS (Value per Share) with a single share.

BLACKPINK generated approximately 78 percent of the social media buzz around performances at Coachella. The EMV derived from the group’s Coachella appearance may help the group secure additional brand sponsorships and drive new audiences to virtual concerts that have earned the group millions in direct sales. But earned media’s value doesn’t only matter for pop stars and well-known brands.

Marketers can extend the impact of their marketing spend by leveraging earned media to build brand awareness and connect with new audiences. Creating an effective strategy starts with data.

Discover your brand’s EMV with Social Index by connecting with us for a free 1:1 demo.

The Return Of ROI: Why Brands Should Rethink Earned Media Value

With only a fraction of US digital ad budgets devoted to earned media, the ability to quantify and track EMV is causing some marketers to rethink their long-term strategies.

According to a 2022 report by the IAB, advertisers are spending more this year on digital advertising while reducing their spending on traditional media. Despite the budget rise, a recent survey by Kantar reports that only one in 10 marketers state that they have all of the data they need to judge the effectiveness of their marketing strategy. That means marketers will face more pressure to justify each dollar as businesses attempt to drive sales amid economic uncertainty. 

Added to that is the complexity of maintaining performance as the nation enters a period of uncertainty, even as the economy appears to be on an uptick.

Brands are increasing their ad spend and devoting the bulk of their marketing budgets to digital advertising. Yet only about 11 percent of their budgets are devoted to earned media.

While earned media lags behind traditional ad spend, its value is demonstrable.

Here’s how it worked for Rihanna:

  • From Saturday to Monday of the Super Bowl Weekend, Rihanna’s digital album sales increased by 301 percent.
  • “Pour It Up” (2012), a song she performed, saw a 1,387 percent increase in digital song sales and a 470 percent in on-demand audio streams.
  • “Where Have You Been” (2011) rose by a 1,272 percent boost in digital song sales and saw a 459 percent leap in on-demand audio streams.

Enter earned media value (EMV) measurement. When marketers can look at data connecting revenue to specific strategies, such as a tweet by an influencer, they can reallocate resources quickly, optimizing revenue opportunities.

Source: The IAB 2023 Outlook Survey

A Primer: How Earned Media Value Works

Earned media value (EMV) attaches a monetary value to the mentions or other publicity connected to a brand identity on earned media channels. This might include social media, public relations, influencer marketing and word-of-mouth. 

Earned media can help extend the value of more traditional forms of ad spending by helping brands penetrate untapped audiences, essentially for free. Fans can become brand ambassadors and deliver brand messaging with a click.

Earned media is often viewed as more credible than traditional ads, as audiences tend to trust social peers, readers, and influencers more than claims made in traditional campaigns. That human component can transform static ad campaigns into gateways to customer conversion when ads accompany a persuasive influencer’s content. 

Yet measuring EMV can be difficult due to the complexity of simultaneously tracking consumer behaviors and brand mentions. Since 2017, has helped over 3,000 companies use their product, Social Index, to reliably measure earned media value (EMV) and campaign ROI.

Social Index 3.0 leverages the use of machine learning-powered algorithms to analyze vast proprietary and public data to help brands understand their customers and the brand’s power in the marketplace.

Users can integrate the Earned Media Values API with their existing analytics or data reporting suite to gain continual access to fresh EMV data.

According to Ayzenberg Chief Media Officer Vincent Juarez, Social Index provides marketers with the most comprehensive benchmarks for tracking earned media values (EMVs). As a result, Ayzenberg’s marketing and data science team is constantly monitoring the social media landscape to identify new and emerging platforms that matter most to marketers.

“Most platforms provide robust analytics in terms of video views, time spent, followers, likes, comments, and shares, among other metrics,” stated Juarez, at the launch of the latest iteration of Social Index. “Filling the void and providing marketers with earned media or advertising value equivalents (AVEs) for platforms like TikTok provides a foundation for testing, learning and optimizing future content efforts. It will also help standardize benchmarks to compare against other platforms.”

Here Come The Zoomers: 16 To 24-Year-Olds Are Always Connected And Streaming

A recent report by GWI shows that today’s 16 to 24-year-olds are a lot like The Golden Girls: they spend hours on the couch watching TV and gossiping with their besties. That’s good news for savvy marketers willing to craft a context-aware marketing strategy.

Digital Is The Waking Life: Gen Z Spends Most Of Their Free Time Connected

Digital spaces are now where Gen Z spends most of their free time. According to GWI, Gen Z Americans spend almost three hours daily on social media, more than any other demographic group in the US. They also spend an hour and 23 minutes gaming and an hour and 34 minutes streaming online TV. That’s in addition to the hour and 28 minutes spent watching traditional, linear television.

The Second Screen Echo Effect

Gen Z is not just always connected—they also usually interact with multiple devices simultaneously. While that isn’t a surprise if you’ve been near a teenager in the last five years or so, what is new is the explosion of content choices and mobile tools. Consumers have multiple devices and opportunities to shop without getting off the couch or picking up a laptop. Mobile phone features that allow consumers to shop TV scenes or authenticate in-game purchases instantly from an app mean marketers have numerous opportunities to drive Gen Z consumers towards engagement—or away from it.

The same ad, out of context and on repeat, can deaden viewer interest.

Knowing that Gen Z people are likely connected to multiple content experiences and interacting with friends on social at the same time, brand marketers should be mindful of the echo effect. A good ad campaign is like a great TikTok video—engaging, informative, or amusing, and appears at the right time—based on what the viewer is interested in at that moment. When there’s an echo of something great—like a beat from a sound system—it’s danceable and a pleasure to experience. But ads that are irrelevant and track consumers from device to device are the wrong kind of echo—persistent and slightly creepy. That’s something users never want to see or hear again.

What This Means For Marketers

Digital spaces are now “home” for Gen Z. Online connections are almost always on or nearby. That makes it easier for marketers to find Gen Z consumers, but it also means they are likely already inundated with ads. Because they are always connected, they may see the same ads on repeat. Too many ads appearing on something always on and rarely out of sight may feel like an invasion of personal space. That means relevance is important, as is context.

For Gen Z, context matters a lot. While this demographic reports skipping ads more than other age groups, they are most influenced to make a purchase when viewing ads on TikTok, according to a recent YPulse report. This makes sense, as TikTok adoption has grown by over 40% since 2020, according to the GWI report. Gen Z consumers also use the internet 9% less this year to find information. There may be a reason for that: the rise of social search.

According to the report:

“TikTok is spearheading this shift in finding information online. The appeal of TikTok is real people recounting their real experiences instead of a search engine offering up hundreds of links that may get you the answer you’re looking for.”

That makes the social ads and TikTok-based campaigns especially powerful when they deliver information that can be found easily in a search.

Overall, the study found that Gen Z consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on viewing ads on social media and YouTube than on cable TV, for example.

Learn more by downloading the report.

New IAB Report: Ad Spend Will Rise Unevenly In 2023

As advertisers reevaluate their budgets and their new priorities in the face of potentially ongoing inflation, they are still growing their ad spend. A new report by the IAB reveals that while advertisers will increase their spend in 2023, the growth will be focused on a few key areas.

Where advertisers will be spending the most

Next year’s overall ad spend growth will drop meaningfully from 2022’s nine percent rise in ad spend over 2021, estimated to reach only 5.9 percent. Advertisers’ biggest increase in spending will focus on four key segments. B2B ad spend will rise by 20.8 percent, travel by 20.6 percent, restaurants/beer/liquor/wine by 17.1 percent and financial services by 11.1 percent.  Not surprisingly, these are among the business sectors most vulnerable to inflation, making the competition for consumer dollars more intense. The report states that other sectors will face only single-digit growth. Digital channels will see positive ad spend growth, with CTV seeing the highest level, at 14.4 percent, while spending on traditional channels will decline. 

Advertisers will focus on customer acquisition and brand equity in 2023

Sixty-one percent of consumers will focus on customer acquisition in their 2023 marketing strategy and ad spend, with brand equity (43 percent) and improving the efficiency of their media efficiency (35 percent). According to the report, between 52-55 percent of advertisers will focus on measurement, marketing mix and modeling (MMM), as well as the use of 1st party data, and investment in creators in 2023. Yet that may change: Sixty-three percent of ad buyers stated that they anticipate changing their media plans more frequently in 2023 than they did in 2022—at least once per month. 

Retail media networks and the metaverse take center stage

The IAB report reveals that sixty-one percent of ad buyers have invested or will invest in retail media networks (RMN) advertising, and investment in 2023 will rise by 28.4 percent. Key areas of advertisers’ ad investment include onsite owned and operated, (91 percent), aggregated marketplaces (82 percent), retailer-owned (75 percent), and e-commerce owned (64 percent). 

The report also showed that 56 percent of ad buyers have invested or will invest in metaverse advertising/marketing, with many focused on building brand awareness (52 percent), engaging existing customers (48 percent), and reaching hard-to-find audiences (42 percent).

Read the entire report here

1. Rugabear, Christopher. How inflation spread across different sectors, making it harder to tame. October 2022. Accessed November 2022.