ROI and measurement


Blogging world flipped by AdAge Apocalypse

I woke up Thursday morning to a shocking development. My ego had been knocked down 60 pegs.

On the right hand column of this blog there is a fancy orange badge naming this site as a top marketing blog, as determined by AdAge magazine. Last week, the organization changed its magic formula to upend a rating system that I, and many other bloggers had depended on as relative sign of the success of our blogs.  In a recent podcast, Mitch Joel recently told me it was the only metric he follows every day, for example. Gini Dietrich posted that she was “really pissed” by the changes.

The system was far from perfect, but if you looked at the results … yeah, they seemed about right.

The AdAge rating system depended on five variables that blended together in a secret sauce to come up with a numerical score. Two of the most meaningful factors, PostRank and Collective Intellect discontinued the availability of their API (raw data source) and had to be replaced.

Post Rank was the most important component, I thought, because it seemed to be an indicator of strong content. It considered how your article had been shared, the level of engagement through comments, and if other people wrote blogs about your blog.

These two important measurements have been replaced by feeds from Facebook and Twitter. To give you some idea of the impact on {grow}’s rating, my PostRank score was 47 out of 50 points … my Facebook score is a 1.  I don’t know why, but it is what it is.

This change had a cataclysmic effect on the rankings. Some blogs moved up or dropped down by 200 places or more!   Many of the changes make no sense at all. For example, one blog that is more or less in my “old” position has not been updated since 2009.  What’s that supposed to mean?

It looks to me that losing these two key scores has made the AdAge ranking virtually meaningless.  However, I’m not arguing from a position of strength since I was one of the big losers in the chaos!

My reaction to this was embarassing. At first, I was shocked and angry.  I spend a lot of time telling people NOT to worry about the numbers and just do great work … and here I was worrying about the numbers!  I was pissed off at AdAge and I was pissed at myself for feeling so strongly about it.

I think this pokes about at a recent theme of this blog — social proof and the fact that oftentimes on the social web a numerical rating provides a more important symbol of accomplishment than actual accomplishment. But this time it really hit home. Even if it’s a fake badge, the business benefits of being on the list can be real.

Now I had fallen into the social proof vortex, even though I’m supposed to know better!   Arrrgh.

At various times during the Day of the AdAge Apocalypse I would catch myself being angry about the shift only to self-correct and remind myself that nothing really important in my life had changed. This Jekyl and Hyde routine continued about once an hour all day.

As high-minded as I would LIKE to be about this development, I can’t deny that this little report card meant something to me. I work so very hard to make {grow} an interesting, relevant and entertaining blog and I felt like I got bitch slapped. Just being honest about it.

I’m a little more calm about it now. I know I need to be focused on “real life” … but my blog has become real life too, hasn’t it?  This whole thing feels like your business credit rating being determined by freaking Facebook or something.

Anybody want to weigh in on this?  Slap me back to reality? Take your best shot baby.