Beware false idols.

 

Beware false idols.

Corr! Look at that shiny thing! See how it dazzles and sparkles. Bow down to its radiance. Behold its brilliance. Just don’t look too close or you might spot some slight flaws. I say slight. In all honesty they’re more like gaping chasms. Great yawning expanses of deficiency. Vast plains of want.

The shiny thing is a study of Vodafone’s new youth-focused network, Voxi. It’s full of impressive sounding figures like 85% of the target audience reached within three weeks, 17 million video views in the three weeks post launch, 44% event-stream completion rates on Twitter against an average of 8% and 81 million ad impressions. So far so shiny.

However, watching a video or liking a brand’s social channel requires minimal investment. A few seconds, a quick click. The sum of which is basically so what. Also, what do they count as a ‘view’ on their videos. That second of auto-play as you scroll past? And how many of those views were actual living, breathing human beings and not the bots that account for roughly 52% of internet traffic?

What was the actual result of all that shimmer? How did all those video views translate into more meaningful measurements? How many people actually signed up to Voxi as their mobile provider? What percentage of the 16-24-year-old market have they got? Old fashioned perhaps, but they’re the kind of grubby, real world statistics that makes for happy spreadsheets.

Not so keen to share those figures? Ok, well surely a laser-like focus on young people generated a huge social audience? A quick check on the Voxi Twitter account reveals it has… just over 7,500 followers. That’s not much of a return on their claim to have reached 85% of the target audience – some 8.4 million people. So that’s 7,500 out of 8.4 million. Or as a percentage, 0.0892%. Less than a tenth of one percent.

We need to stop holding up such soft measurements as shining beacons of success. Reaching people is fine if your goal is awareness. But when you’re launching a new brand that will live or die on its subscriber base, it doesn’t count for much if the people you’ve reached don’t become customers. Otherwise the shine of streams and views and impressions loses its lustre very quickly.

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