Media Business Strategies

The Blog of David Polakoff

Porridge. Mush. All the Children Have Mush

Posted by David Polakoff on May 27, 2014

The Windmills of My Immediate Mind

Media Business Strategies – David Polakoff

“Porridge. Mush. All the Children Have Mush”

Media Measurement Metrics – Mush

The following is from Hal Roach’s (1933) “The Little Rascals” episode, “Mush and Milk:”

Cap: Waiter, What is this?

Waiter: Porridge. Mush. All the children have mush.

Not intending to be alliterative, but it works – today’s mélange of media measurement metrics are a mush of alternatives. I could spend half of this column naming acronyms and buzzwords, from views, impressions, uniques, clicks, and subscribers, to engagement, shareability and percentage watched, but we will only agree that no one agrees on how to measure digital print and digital video content.

What’s not in dispute is that traditional media was, and continues to be, measured in views and impressions and these measurement components survive and translate to digital media.   Views and impressions are quantitative metrics which do not necessarily translate to precise qualitative analysis. If I see a stagnant ad or video ad on a webpage, it does not mean I paid any attention to it. If I did view (consume) the print or video content, it does not necessarily mean that it resonated with me, nor that I will remember it or act upon it, consciously or sub-consciously.

Of course, there is the metric de jour: what is the hot metric topic, one day, and where does it rank in the advertising, brand, and publishing community, the next day. Let’s talk subscribers. In my cable days, subscribers were (and remain) everything; the programmers and cable providers were paid on subscribers. Of course, there was always the fine question of whether the subscribers were fully paying subscribers (or free or discounted, based upon various promotions). In digital media, subscribers (outside of pay-wall content) do have a certain currency, though it is far from the cable (or magazine) subscriber. Someone who subscribes to a site, channel, or video presumably is a dedicated and regular fan of the content, including the ads, but not necessarily so. How many of us subscribe to an RSS feed or video channel, but don’t necessarily consume the content? Perhaps we even delete the ping, even though we’re “subscribers.” Subscribers have been a hot metric, and remain so, but until a digital subscriber in an ad supported environment means more to the consumer, it’s not that hot.

Now if we talk engagement (and I’m not talking the bridal registry sort), that’s where I consider metrics very relevant and exciting. In the days of my youth (…I was told what it means to be a man, but relax Led Zepellin fans, that is not where I’m going), my grandfather would mail letters to our house with newspaper clippings included – articles he read that he thought were of interest to a particular family member. Well, in that era, that was the best example of reader engagement. My grandfather consumed the article, however he discovered it (probably by just flipping through the newspaper, cover to cover), it resonated with him, and he so absorbed it and embraced it, that he passed it to one of us; and more than likely, we read it, thanked him for it, and probably discussed it, acted upon it, and passed it along, to another.

Today, the tools to shareability are so easy – we cut/paste in an Email; we use the buttons to share through about any of the choice means possible (Twitter, Email, Facebook, Tumbler, embed the URL, etc.). Of all the measurement metrics, shareability resonates so strongly with me because it absolutely assures relevance, effectiveness, comprehension, memorability, timeliness, and contextuality, and that the message is being re-directed to those with the same sensitivities, interests, needs, and demands (and likely demographics). Shareability is virality. Shareability affirms that the content is premium quality, in all its manifestations. Community and communication have been achieved. And whether the content is pure, with surrounding advertising or branded or native, you can gain significant assurance that the advertising and branding will have also successfully communicated the desired messaging and prompt the desired consumer response. What prompts shareability? Quality content delivered in as efficient a means as possible. Today, you have to be a creative and effective producer, but also a digital marketer – those are not mutually exclusive skills, strategies, and goals.

Mush consists of corn meal, water, salt, and milk. And unless the milk is spoiled, not one of those ingredients will necessarily rise to the top. The media measurement metrics mush has many more ingredients and while I believe that shareability is the stand-out ingredient, I would still not claim the other ingredients are to be ignored. So, we continue to wince at the taste of mush, and hope all do better to formulate a better recipe. By the way, when the kids in “The Little Rascals” passed along the message not to eat the mush, because the milk had spoiled; that was…shareability!

By chance, if you’re a fan of “The Little Rascals” and “Oliver!,” you may be wondering the difference between mush and gruel. Like mush, gruel includes water and salt, but it has oatmeal instead of corn meal. So, if I were Oliver, I’d rather ask for more gruel instead of mush, but let’s just hope Mr. Brownlow comes along and changes the bill of fare, for us all.


Media Business Strategies is the blog/website of David Polakoff, a New York based, Media & Entertainment Industry Financial Executive.

David Polakoff’s media/entertainment industry experience and expertise results from his tenures in senior financial and development roles with: Ernst & Young, HBO/Time Warner, Granada America/itv plc, independent consulting, and multi-channel network, Iconic Entertainment, Inc.  Currently, David provides financial, operational, and strategic services to media/entertainment companies.  Read more in About.

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