LISBON, PORTUGAL: Measurement practitioners are buzzing about survey findings released today at the third annual AMEC European Summit on Measurement in Lisbon, which canvassed the industry for a global view of the recently adopted Barcelona Principles.
"If you boiled it down to a nutshell, it basically came down to two things as the obstacles," David Rockland, AMEC director and global head of research at Ketchum, said about the survey. "One: better techniques, and two: client education, and that's really what this conference is all about."
The survey was released online last month and asked industry players about the next steps for the implementation of the Barcelona Principles, which were rolled out at the conference last year in Spain. One of the more controversial aspects of the seven principles was the abolishment of Advertising Value Equivalency, or AVE.
"That attracted a lot of attention, because their use is incredibly wide spread," Rockland said. "If you think of what an AVE is, it's the cost of advertising, and for the longest time PR, for the lack of anything better, was saying the value of what we do in PR equals the cost of advertising."
This year's conference, which began yesterday and ends tomorrow, brings together nearly 200 global PR practitioners, corporate executives, vendors, and worldwide industry organizations from 30 countries to discuss the best techniques for measuring the value of PR, including sales and corporate reputation.
"If [the Barcelona summit last year] was about the basic rules and what's right and what's wrong, this is how to do measurement the best," Rockland said. "One is what's the future look like, and the second would be that part of that future has to bring along the rest of the PR industry as part of this and how do we do that."
Results of the survey released today found that 44% of respondents believe clients and PR firms are interested in implementing a measurement program without AVEs since the Barcelona Principles were released. In addition, 11% of respondents said they are seeking metrics for social media.
Summit attendee Andre Manning, VP and global head of corporate communications at Philips, said the Lisbon event will set the tone for installing the new measurement standards.
"If we focus on the 2020 agenda that has been set in Lisbon and make continuous improvement on each of the objectives we will — in the next few years — resolve many of the measurement issues we have wrestled with for a long time," he said. "To make it even stronger, if we as an industry do not embrace these 2020 principles we might lose our voice and added value seen by our business partners."
Manning said he believes his own company, Philips, is "ahead of the curve" in PR measurement, but still has some challenges to confront, including determining how reputation drives brand equity, a need for sharply defined methods of quantifying the value of communications on incremental sales, and establishing a consistent measure for social media.
"The need for measurement to become an intrinsic part of PR campaigns and programs, and the need for clients to request measurement programs, which not only include outputs but outcomes, and business results as well, were also high priority," added Ruth Pestana, worldwide director, strategic services at Hill & Knowlton. "This clearly demonstrates that in addition to tackling new challenges in the fast-changing social media space, the industry still needs to address the basic issue of how to embed measurement into PR programs from both the client and agency end.”
AMEC chairman Mike Daniels said the summit is part of a long-term strategy to get the PR industry as a whole on-board with the Barcelona Principles, as well define the tactics to support the new standard.
"AMEC is effectively acting as a catalyst for discussions about measurement in a much more focused, consistent, and rigorous way, and part of our strategy is a lot of outreach to get other organizations behind the efforts," Daniels said. "We've moved away from saying measurement is important. What we're now saying is how do we make measurement absolutely central to the corporate or product communications function. We want to move forward together so effectively [that] clients begin to see measurement as a highly credible part of their tool kit."