SAN FRANCISCO—Applied Communications has always put more emphasis on research and evaluation than most of its midsize peers, which is one reason the firm weathered the economic downturn of last year better than others in the high-tech sector. Now it is expanding its research group, deploying a new set of metrics designed to track return on investment across the firm’s entire client base.
Applied’s MediaShare Performance Indicators (MPIs) deliver weekly or monthly measurements of a company’s media performance, market trends and brand positioning, indexed over time and measured against competitors.
“Since the agency was founded, research has been the foundation of everything we do,” says Tim Marklein, Applied’s senior vice president and partner responsible for research and planning, who says the firm will apply some for the MPI on behalf of every client. “Our view is that clients are paying us because they want to see certain results and we need to know whether we are delivering those results. It’s a question of how you do that rather than a question of it.”
While some clients have historically resisted paying extra for research, Marklein says Applied’s MPI system is relatively inexpensive and often ends up saving money. “If you are doing research right, it tells you what elements of your program are working and what elements are not, and that allows you to focus your energies on the right activities rather than the wrong activities. It makes everything you do more cost-effective.”
Applied’s family of MediaShare Performance Indicators currently includes 13 specific products that have been created to measure, target and plan communications programs, costing between $500 and $1,000 per month. Clients receive monthly or weekly reports that promptly capture data and analysis across two to five standard metrics including:

       Company/Product/CEO MediaShare, which provides a volumetric analysis of a company’s public record position over time and against competitors. Similar to a comparative stock chart, MediaShare provides a weighted composite of headline, lead paragraph and article citations across more than 8,000 business, trade and broadcast media and analyst reports.

       Discussion Drivers, which track the volume and coverage pattern of specific media discussions over time, enabling Applied to track specific market categories, technologies, products, concepts or issues across the public record.

       Brand Associations, which identify and measure how closely company or product brands are associated with specific market categories, trends or technologies, providing top-line indicators that demonstrate both message penetration and market/issue ownership against a company’s rivals or comparative companies.

“Applied’s unique approach to metrics is invaluable, and its research has illuminated several industry trends that will guide our competitive positioning,” says Mike Mansbach, vice president of marketing for client SeeCommerce. “Applied’s ability to quickly capture relevant metrics were a key factor for us in selecting them. Without the timely ability to measure, you run the risk of monitoring and managing performance after the fact. Imagine driving a car by looking at the rearview mirror.”