I'm a guy who believes in measurement. So, here's my two cents on the good bad and ugly of what’s been created and discussed over the last 10 years. (in reverse order, of course):
1) Advertising equivalency is as strong as ever - In many PR camps, this is still the case. This concept which began in the stone ages (earned media publicity is compared to the advertising equivalency in space, inches and/or amount of broadcast time), will just never die. It provides zero value. Yet, it costs a lot to analyze. And in the end, marketers have a measurement report that tells them absolutely nothing about how successful their program is. Way to go, industry...
2) Using technology for technology sake - I've watched one vendor after another sprout up with these "magical" offerings. In many cases, these companies have created algorithms, software architecture and lots of complex metrics formulas that are just too damn hard to understand. Sure, some can push data to you in a moment's time. Others can provide scores and analytics of vast digital and media points that could never have been retrieved before. The problem though, is that if we can't really understand what's behind the score, metric or analysis, then how do we know what's being fed to us is even correct?
There are too many technologies that can't be verified to provide accurate outputs or outcomes and that scares me.
3) The human touch - On this same note, technology has begun to replace the inefficiencies of human labor. In many ways, that's really positive. Where it took hundreds of man hours to collect and tabulate data for a particular media or digital metrics program before, now the right software formulas can do the same work in a half hour. That's amazing… except, let's not forget the value that our professional analysis and insights provide.
There isn't a measurement system in existence that can offer up strategic and prescriptive strategies and tactics to tackle the problems or opportunities that became apparent through computerized number crunching. We are moving too quickly into a world where human analysis is being replaced by intelligent software. That is a disaster waiting to happen as we deal with the most pressing corporate topics like reputation and sales.
1) One standard to measure all - Much like the consumer technology world is still trying to create one PDA that will do everything for the customer, our PR industry continues to search for one standard that can measure any media, event, trade show, digital program, etc. Maybe we'll find this golden standard. But, I don't understand why that "Holy Grail" is deemed so important.
Rather, I think what is critical is that specific metrics are tailored for each client and every campaign based on its individual needs. Might we lose something in cost and efficiency by having various standards? Yes. But, as long as the standard is accurate and clearly measures something that matters, who cares.
2) Information overload - We still receive far too many reports, graphs, analysis and reams of wasted paper from measurement specialists. Sorry to be so direct on this. But, I think that many companies providing these reports feel that the more data they hand over, the more value it will seem like they are providing. Very few are actually marketers or public relations professionals though. If they were, they'd also understand how little we care about quantity versus quality.
1) Real time metrics can lead to immediate action – It’s exciting to see that almost any issue, campaign or disaster can be monitored in real time now. This means that as data is pushed to our desk tops, we can immediately make actionable decisions to try and change opinions, push out our messages and/or contain a negative situation. Of course, this leads to an entirely new set of challenges. But, it’s great to see how linked metrics and real time campaigns are now. This will only become that much more powerful.
2) Better products make us more sophisticated – There’s no doubt that a number of great offerings exist out there today. I won’t start naming them, but we now have the ability to benchmark competitive programs at a very sophisticated level. Digital analytical tools allow us to figure out exactly who our programs are reaching and what impact they may be having. And, through the integration of creative graphical offerings with back end software, we can provide immensely appealing dashboards which allow clients to see their program’s achievements at a glance.
3) The industry has brought outsiders in...and that's good – Let’s face it. Marketers/PR practitioners are very good at what they do. One of these strengths isn’t the ability to provide real analytical tools and research methodologies that measure campaigns. I think that the industry has done a very good job of reaching outside the profession to bring in those who are professional researchers, statisticians, and just big thinkers. This was a must need to ensure that our offerings are accurate and dig deep into business insights.
Overall, our industry still has a long way to go. If you have any thoughts on this topic, please fire away.