Three acronyms to help with justifying social media: Part one

Love it or loathe it, many clients instinctively try to evaluate social media in ways similar to advertising. Whether it’s because you want to justify social media on those grounds – or because you want to persuade the client why that isn’t appropriate – you need to know the lingo.

This three-part mini-series introduces you to the main acronyms you might come up against.

Part 1: OTS

OTS or “opportunities to see” is a traditional advertising measure, indicating the number of times your target audience is exposed to an advert. It’s an “opportunity” to see because not everyone will actually pay attention to the advert. That makes it a fairly crude, broad-brush measure – and one that better the narrower the range of media you are looking at. The more diverse the media, the less useful comparing OTS figures becomes.

So, for example, if you use OTS figures to compare and combine adverts that have appeared in newspapers and magazines, OTS can give a very useful idea of the scale of the advertising.

But add in OTS figures for TV and radio adverts and the usefulness drops – watching moving pictures with sounds is very different from looking at a printed advert, added to which the amount of time you spend absorbing a TV advert is usually very different from that spent on a printed advert.

Extending OTS to include social media often takes it past breaking point – because the proportion of people who actually pay attention to something they have a theoretical opportunity to see falls so low as to make the OTS calculations meaningless.

But never fear: if someone is keen on OTS numbers, there are usually different measures you can use which help paint a picture of potential audience reach in a way that will be familiar to them, such as number of RSS subscribers or Facebook fans.

See here for the full social media metrics series.

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