The estimated market value of Wikipedia is $11 or $12 billion. The replacement cost of Wikipedia is an estimated $6.6 billion. And yet those figures are pure speculation, because thousands of volunteers manage the website which is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. There is no debate about Wikipedia’s significance. What is not speculation is that Wikipedia is the #1 online reference website with 15 billion pageviews per month. In search engine results, it ranks Top 5 on Page 1 results. Despite these hard numbers, brand management leaders and decision makers still face difficulty when justifying the value of including Wikipedia in the overall brand management system.
Calculate Brand Value. Step-by-Step.
Calculating a brand’s value accounts for both tangibles like historical financial results as well as intangibles like customer loyalty. A Strategic Finance magazine article “Brand Value: ‘Hidden’ Asset in Plain View” provides a step-by-step guide to calculating brand value. With several approaches to calculating brand value, everyone can agree that there is no universally accepted method for calculating brand value. But that does not diminish the significance of brand value or brand equity.
CEOs are aware the components of brand equity are brand awareness, brand loyalty, brand association, and perception. CEOs are equally aware that brand and perception have a direct correlation with stock performance, and yet they continue to press on CMOs and CCOs to prioritize ROI over awareness and association.
So what approach must marketing, branding, and communications leaders take to justify an initiative that has high intrinsic value? Consider presenting how the Wikipedia program costs offset and improve other digital marketing programs:
Search Engine Optimization and Marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) consume 30% of digital marketing programs. As Google continues to iterate functions such as search algorithm and user interface, they force marketers to continually re-invest in campaigns for keywords and phrases to reach and convert users. The average spend is $5,000-$10,000 per month on SEO and SEM.
Responsive Website Design and Maintenance
An enterprise company website undergoes re-design every few years, for varying reasons from brand refresh to responsiveness optimization. With a makeover of a company website requiring internal and external resources, costs can be upwards of $500,000 or more, excluding ongoing maintenance.
Paid and owned social media defend their piece of the digital program with metrics such as cost per action (CPA) and cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM). With nearly 10% of a digital program carved for social media, it costs $3,000-$20,000 per month to keep the “conversation” going.
Presenting the Value of a Wikipedia Article
Misinformation about the company on any public digital properties such as search engines, company website, sales materials, and owned social media can influence a customer’s, distributor/reseller’s, employee’s, and shareholder’s perception of the brand. According to Gartner’s “The CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019,” 11% of the marketing budget goes to digital marketing at companies with revenue of over $10 billion, whereas companies with revenue between $500 million-$1 billion dedicate 8% to digital marketing. To marketing teams of any company size, it’s imperative to invest resources towards protecting brand equity and brand association.
Human and capital resources dedicated to the aforementioned digital marketing functions are “no brainers” because there is measurable ROI in the form of conversion, conversation, or clickthrough. But Wikipedia’s soft ROI or intrinsic value is not that obvious. For example, in SEM and SEO, Wikipedia always appears in a Google Knowledge Graph or is a cited source in Google search results. For responsiveness and reliability, the Wikipedia website is consistently reliable in those areas because it enhances the user experience without significantly changing the user interface so therefore Wikipedia maintains its strong link authority. For social media, specifically, paid and owned, Wikipedia is neither of those. The conversations in the Wikipedia community are specific to correcting or updating content on the company’s Wikipedia article, so it’s not necessary to keep the conversation going.
When presenting the value of the company’s Wikipedia article or the CEO’s Wikipedia biography, consider showing the impact of misinformation. Just because Wikipedia is not owned and cannot be controlled by the company does not disqualify its significance. A program such as Wikipedia that can protect brand equity qualifies for an exception to the ROI rule because the loss of a sale or shareholder value is detrimental no matter where the customer or investor received their information to influence their opinion.