Opinion: Leader - Evaluation report is cause for optimism

If PROs don't know better than most to treat self-serving research with a degree of scepticism, they certainly should. Some in the industry have form for putting out ostensibly newsworthy research-based stories that either stem from a series of loaded questions, a statistically insignificant sample group or a desperate attempt to hit the quarterly coverage target, suffering a lapse of ethical judgement along the way.

There is no suggestion any of these descriptions apply to this week's report from Metrica that the proportion of companies using media analysis (of the kind Metrica sells) has risen substantially on last year. After an apparently robust research process, it has established that companies invest more in analysing the impact of their PR than they ever have before.

Leave aside the question of whether Metrica would have publicised its findings if the results had been otherwise. Those findings - having spoken to PR and communications managers at 100 different companies - represent positive news for the evaluation sector's growth prospects. The visible trend is of an increase in the percentage of those questioned who believe ten per cent of the PR budget should go on measurement, and a three-fold increase (albeit from a low base) in those who believe 20 per cent should be allocated thus.

Almost everyone now actively measures the impact of what they do - and in increasingly sophisticated ways. The percentage using discredited systems of advertising value equivalence has, happily, fallen - from 38 to 34 per cent. It is not clear whether it is the principle of AVEs that people object to or the lack of rigour in the way PR people use that principle.

Media buyers sneer at some of the mechanisms used by PR firms to justify their fees, and it is to be hoped that as agencies and clients gradually respond to that sneer, the number of those using them will fall.

If it does, and the proportion of companies investing in serious measurement continues to rise, you can bet Metrica will be on hand to tell us about it.

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