THURSDAY 5 DEC 2019 12:13 PM


Conferences are often thought provoking. They are, less often, the source of contentious debate. But that was the case at Tuesday’s PRCA Measurement Conference, hosted alongside Amec.

The event began with a discussion from Amec’s global managing director, Johna Burke, who said, “There is no silver bullet” for measurement. She encouraged comms professionals to change the perception clients and even agency leaders have of the measurement and evaluation process. “Planning,” she argued, “is so critical,” to producing an effective campaign.

The successive panel discussion took that to heart, exploring the ways in which technology is influencing measurement processes. Many bemoaned the common budget cuts ascribed to measurement and evaluation practices, when in fact, they said, proving what works and what doesn't can help companies learn for future campaigns.

But then disagreement struck. Daniel Stauber, marketing science expert at Facebook said, comms professionals have a “danger of relying too much on the data that’s available to us, not the data that’s important to us.” He argued the case for traditional evaluation techniques like surveys, rather than mining private conversations across platforms like Facebook’s for the purposes of sentiment analysis. Jonny Bentwood, global head of data and analytics, provided a counterpoint, arguing for greater transparency so communicators can understand their audiences by analysing the places those audiences are conversing.

Andy West, chief group development officer at Hotwire, offered an optimistic outlook, saying that platforms will have to get used to providing more data to advertisers as their business models rely on advertising purchasing. Stauber replied though, “It’s going to get worse” for marketers and communicators as privacy controls increase.

The event continued with a case study provided by Steve Leigh, director of PR Agency One, on Decathlon’s audience analysis across the UK. The case study discussed the ways in which an understanding of audience can help determine the PR brief in the first place, leading to more effective, more carefully targeted campaigns.

The event wrapped up with a discussion about proving the value of PR where opinion was further divided about the integration of PR and marketing…or lack thereof. The outlook for the future of measurement, thus, was divided. Some argued for greater integration between marketing and PR, some for improved transparency of social data and some for measurement tools as a means of proving PR’s efficacy at building trust. The debate will continue further at Amec's 2020 summit in Vienna next June.