Better known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, the IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) is one of Europe’s leading automotive events. IAA ’11 was particularly significant for Ford of Europe, who produce, sell and service Ford brand vehicles in 51 markets. German manufacturers tend to dominated IAA media coverage, and Ford’s spend was significantly lower than many of its competitors’.
As Ford of Europe’s trusted evaluation partner for over a decade, we were tasked with evaluating Ford’s positioning within show coverage in the major European markets. On top of the usual print media, they wanted to know about their online performance in news reports and social media discussions.
From a fortnight before the show until a month afterwards, our in-house monitoring service tracked all major manufacturers and their exhibits from print and online sources, constantly adding search terms as new production models and concepts appeared. IAA ’11 generated considerable online coverage; in all we analysed nearly 20,000 articles and around 5,700 discussions and posts on blogs, Twitter and YouTube.
We wanted to keep online reporting fast and cheap, so we opted for fully automated analysis and eschewed human validation of tone.
Our automotive sector analysts looked at print coverage in much more detail. For each article, we calculated the likelihood of reader assimilation, based on circulation and article prominence factors, providing a convenient yet precise Media Influence Index score up to 100. Qualitative analysis included assessing tone on a 5-point scale, and categorizing manufacturers, exhibits, automotive attributes, such as fuel economy and infotainment systems, and also a range of corporate issues.
Breaking down findings for print and online news coverage by market, and social media by language, we presented findings using the standard Ford format.
Ford did very well. Despite its modest spend, the brand muscled into fifth place for overall coverage in both print and online media, placing third and second respectively amongst volume manufacturers. Online, Ford was the leading non-German manufacturer. The company’s performance did not top their achievement at the recent Gevena show, but it was an improvement on all other comparable periods in recent years.
As well as confirming Ford’s communication strategy was working, we were able to highlight areas where then can refine their approach. For example, opportunities to create more noise in specific markets and languages where share was below the norm, as well as the specific themes and models journalists were associating with the new EcoBoost engine range.