Our metrics are often pulled from a software-as-a-service company called Meltwater, which is also used by movement groups such as United We Dream and Voto Latino, and corporations such as H&M and Deloitte.
One value we frequently cite from Meltwater’s analysis is called potential reach. Potential reach estimates the universe of readers who may see a clip, given its publication in a certain outlet.
For example: let’s say the New York Times is the only news outlet in the world. Meltwater does not know the NYT’s exact readership, but it estimates (based on known subscriber information and website rankings) that the average readership for a news story posted at NYT is (for example) 1 million. If an organization is quoted in the NYT ten times over a given period, the potential reach is calculated at 10 million.
Note that viewers are non-unique: the 10 million views will count a single reader 10 times. This is why Meltwater’s potential reach numbers may seem very high at first glance. When we say that AV’s clips have generated 10 billion potential views, we’re saying that, in a given time period, AV generated X clips that were published in NYT, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, etc. Each of these clips was estimated by Meltwater to have a potential reach of Y, depending on outlet and section (news, editorial, etc). Overall potential reach = X * Y.
AV looks at the potential reach of America’s Voice staffers (specifically, Frank Sharry, Pili Tobar, Maribel Hastings, Douglas Rivlin, Mario Carrillo, and Ur Jaddou). We compare this AV value to the potential reach of the pro-immigrant movement overall (defined by equivalent groups such as United We Dream, AILA, NILC, Migration Policy Institute, and others). And we compare ourselves to the efforts of the anti-immigrant movement (mostly Tanton groups such as FAIR, NumbersUSA, CIS, and their spokespeople).
We recognize that Meltwater’s potential reach number is of limited use, 1) because it is difficult to understand, and 2) there is no intuitive meaning of what it means to generate, for example, 50 billion potential views in one month. However, the number is valuable in a relational sense: we can compare our clip reach to what it was last month and last year. We can track how well AV is doing relative to the pro-immigrant movement overall. And we can track the rise/fall of the pro- and anti-immigrant movements and how they are doing over time.
We also use a value called advertising value equivalency (AVE). This is understood as the paid media equivalent of a given clip, or, how much money we would have spent on publishing an ad of equivalent reach (rather than earning that media clip through interviews, press releases, press calls, etc).