Open for Public Comment: WOMM Measurement Guidelines

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WOMMA’s Research & Measurement Council needs your feedback!  The council has drafted measurement guidelines to bring consistency and accountability to WOMM reporting across the industry. The guidelines are a follow-up to the Media Rating Council's Social Measurement Guidelines, which were developed with WOMMA’s help and published in 2015. These guidelines focus exclusively on consumer-to-consumer brand messaging and are designed to be short and accessible to maximize speedy adoption. The draft guidelines are open to the public for comment until April 20, 2017. Please review and weigh in by adding a your comments to this post.



Draft 3/13/17


Purpose. These guidelines articulate the standard, core metrics and best practices sanctioned by WOMMA for measuring and reporting word of mouth marketing. The guidelines are:

  • Intended to maximize accuracy and consistency across the industry.
  • Intended to be comprehensive but not exhaustive. Measurers can use other metrics and practices, but when they do they must provide clear definitions, full transparency, and adhere to these guidelines to the extent possible.
  • Intentionally as concise as possible, so that measurers will use them and brands will hold partners accountable.
  • Aligned with the Media Rating Council’s Social Media Measurement Guidelines.

Scope. The guidelines cover word of mouth driven by marketing: earned brand messaging (consumer-to-consumer, as opposed to brand-to-consumer), online and offline, including paid influencer marketing, which for now occupies a grey area between earned and paid. The entirety of what’s covered is referred to in this document as “word of mouth” or “WOM.”

Process. The guidelines were: drafted by WOMMA’s Research & Measurement Council (RMC); reviewed by the Media Rating Council and the Conclave on Social Media Measurement Standards to ensure alignment with those groups’ respective guidelines; opened to public comment for one month in which the RMC actively solicited feedback from major, relevant parties; approved by WOMMA’s Board of Directors. WOMMA will amend these Guidelines as necessary, and review them annually.



Transparency & Assumptions. Measurers must fully disclose their methodologies. They must especially disclose and support any assumptions, and they should use “recognized industry standards” wherever possible.

Data Collection. Results that can be, should be, measured by digital observation. Those that can’t (e.g. attitudes and offline behavior) can be measured by surveys, but they should be designated as such, and who was surveyed and how should be disclosed.

Sponsorship. Because the effectiveness of WOM is directly proportionate to its authenticity, it would be desirable for WOM driven by paid influencers to be reported separately from that driven by unpaid influencers. This is unfeasible, however, for a number of reasons (today’s technology doesn’t fully enable it; there are gradations of payment; etc.), so these guidelines do not require it.

Online & Offline. Online and offline WOM should be reported separately, and the measurement tools and methodologies for counting both data sets should be fully disclosed.

Generations. The reporting of offline WOM that is measured in generations from the influencer-out should be limited to three generations -- the influencers (“Generation 1”), the people they tell (“Generation 2”) and the people they tell (“Generation 3”) -- and any assumptions must fully disclosed and sourced. WOM measurement not dependent on generational assumptions (e.g. “impressions” counts from Facebook Analytics) need not segment or limit generational measurement.

Timeframe. Because WOM can continue to spread long after the end of the program that drove it, it is permissible to report ‘Lifetime’ WOM, but all WOM should be time-stamped, at least by month.

Social Overlap & Reach. There is currently no reliable way for measurers to know the overlap of WOM receivers in a program (e.g. friends/followers of multiple participants of the same WOM program, on and across platforms; receivers of WOM both online and off, from the same participant in the same program; etc.). Until there is a way to know the overlap, “unique people reached” cannot be accurately reported. WOMMA is open to efforts to establish data-supported “official assumptions” for the various forms of “social overlap.”

Demographics & Targeting. Because measurers often cannot identify the demographics of WOM participants beyond Generation 1, when reporting demographics they must disclose which audiences are, and are not, being described.

Value. When calculating and reporting program value (e.g. using attribution, market mix modeling, matched market analysis, shopper data analysis, media value, etc.) the following must be adhered to:

  • Methodologies and assumptions must be disclosed.
  • For ROI: the “I” (investment) must be thoroughly defined, itemizing both the costs included and omitted, from agency fees to coupon redemption; the “R” (return) must be clearly defined, whether gross revenue, net profit, etc.
  • For “equivalent market value”: the value of engagement metrics and impressions should be data-supported, “recognized industry standards” when possible; the number of impressions must be based on the number of Estimated Actual Impressions, or Digitally Verified Impressions, not Potential Impressions.

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