At the 3rd European Summit on Measurement held in Lisbon in June 2011, standardization, education, ROI and measurement ubiquity emerged as the key themes in response to a call to set the Measurement Agenda 2020. Delegates to the conference voted on 12 priorities they thought were most important to focus on in the period leading up to 2020. The top four vote-getters became the Measurement Agenda 2020:
- How to measure the return on investment of public relations (89%)
- Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement (83%)
- Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit (73%)
- Institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from PR programs (61%)
For a very nice overview of the Lisbon session and the Barcelona Principles that came before, read this post from Dr. David Rockland of Ketchum who chaired the Barcelona and Lisbon sessions. David pretty much said it all on these sessions, so I’ll just add a couple of comments and share a few thoughts on what I believe the future of measurement 2020 could be.
The rallying cry coming out of Barcelona has been focused and loud – death to AVEs! Will there be a similar thematic coming out of Lisbon and what might it be? My money is on standardization, borne out of cross-industry cooperation. As David points out in his post, and in the words of AMEC Chairman Mike Daniels, “The Summit identified some significant challenges for the PR profession to address by 2020. However, what we also accomplished in Lisbon beyond setting the priorities was to harness the commitment and energy of the industry to agree what we need to do together.” The current cooperation and collaboration between industry groups – AMEC, Institute for Public Relations, PRSA and the Council of PR Firms is unprecedented in my time in this industry and is focused on tangible outcomes. Cross-organization committees are already at work developing standard metrics for social media measurement for example. The spirit of cooperation is uplifting. While the outward thematic appears to be standardization, cooperation is the enabling force.
I was also struck by the symmetry of the call to end AVEs in Barcelona and the call to codify ways to measure ROI in Lisbon. One follows the other. In my opinion the primary reason AVEs exist is because PR practitioners feel pressure to prove the value of what they do, and quite often they are asked to describe the impact in financial terms. AVEs are perceived as a path of least resistance way to express financial value. Except, as we all know, AVEs don’t really have anything to do with the impact public relations creates. They are a misguided proxy for financial value. Hence the need for research-based methods to determine true return on investment.
All of the priorities coming out of Lisbon are excellent goals for the industry. And like David Rockland, I believe they will be achieved, and be achieved before 2020. Here are three other items on my wish list for Measurement 2020:
Word of Mouth/Word of Mouse Integration: For those of us focused in social media and other digital technologies, we can’t allow our digital lens to color what is fundamentally an analog world. Research studies suggest the majority of word of mouth happens in real life. From an influence perspective, I don’t think too many would argue that word of mouth from a trusted friend or family member is more powerful than word of mouse from someone you follow on Twitter. Digital cross-platform research is difficult enough, but when one huge platform is ‘real life’, we have significant challenges in measurement. WOMMA and others have made early attempts to define measurement approaches for offline WOM, but much work remains. We need ways to assess its impact and then we need to think about ways to attribute value to that impact. Mobile is a wild card here as it becomes the preferred platform for online activity. The need to triangulate online, mobile and ‘real life’ measurement presents significant challenges today, and may still by 2020.
Cookie Wars: We all know the measurement versus privacy showdown is coming, right? The first shots have already been fired. The collection of source-level personal data, enabled by cookies, is crucial to measurement and insights but has the potential for misuse or unintended disclosure. Some sophisticated consumers have had their fill of cookies. Although the broader issue might be framed as social sharing versus privacy control, how it plays out will have a direct impact on digital analytics and measurement.
Integrated Measurement across the Paid Earned Shared Owned (PESO) Spectrum: Measurement has increasingly become integrated. It began with integrated traditional (Earned) and social media (Shared) measurement and then progressed rapidly to Earned, Owned and Shared, which is where most integrated measurement programs are today. Many leading-edge integrated programs today also include advertising or Paid media. By 2020, integrated measurement across the PESO spectrum will most likely be the norm and not the exception. A key enabling element here in my view is some base level of agreement on how each area should be measured and standard metrics for each. It will take significant cooperation between industry groups, vendors, agencies and major customers/clients for cross-discipline standardization to move forward effectively. We are at the beginning of this movement in 2011. By 2020, it will be fascinating to look back and see how all this plays out.
When looking ahead to 2020, I am reminded of a measurement discussion pulled together by PRWeek a couple of years ago. Many of the Measurati attended. In response to a question of where measurement will be in five years, David Rockland replied (paraphrasing here), ‘Who knows? Five years ago who would have guessed we would all be focused on how to measure social media?’ So, there is a certain fantasy element to discussing 2020 challenges in measurement. What are your measurement fantasies?