Richard Stacy has written a great post about how all the people wringing their hands about Social Media Measurement are looking at the wrong thing.
I would take it one step further and argue that all of marketing is looking at the wrong things.
Every morning, I grab a free copy of The Berlin Daily Sun from the kiosk in front of our building. I read it for the local news and gossip and real estate transactions, and its great. But every day I have to dig thru a foot-deep layer of flyers and coupons to get to the actual paper. Clearly I am not alone in ignoring those flyers and coupons. It looks like most of the folks that get the paper from this kiosk grab the paper and leave the coupons behind. But somewhere out there there's a marketer who has been sold on the notion that his insert into the Berlin Daily Sun "reaches" all the eyeballs in Berlin, when in fact, the only eyeballs his/her ad is reaching are those of the mice in the recycling bin.
I sat in on a discussion of the value of "coupons" which are clearly a step up from flyers because you can actually count the number of people that redeem them. But somewhere along the line haven't we missed the point. It's not about reaching eyeballs, or even about reaching people who redeem coupons, or for that matter respond to coupons delivered via a cell phone.
Isn't it about driving sales/revenue/business/donations or what ever you are trying to achieve IN THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE. What does it cost to drive sales via coupons vs text messages vs banner ads. If it costs you $100 to get that one person in your store via a coupon, and $.15 via a text message or $.001 via Twitter, where are you going to invest in in the future?
Isn't it about time that we looked not at the "CPM" -- or the cost to REACH a thousand people, but at the cost per sale or cost per engagement? It's all fine and dandy to wish for the "ROI" Holy Grail, but come on folks, isn't it really about delivering better, more cost-effective programs. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that you should be commparing the ROI for your various programs not based on how many eyeballs you reached but on sales, engagement and how many relatioships you improved.