It was less than two weeks ago that I landed in Lisbon
just in time for our panel discussion on "Moving towards a Global Standard for Social Media Measurement."Together with my fellow panelists, Richard Bagnall,
Managing Director of Metrica and
newly appointed direcor of WCG Analysitcs Group, we outlined the state of social media today, and invited the attendees to suggest areas that they wanted the collective bodies to pursue. This was just one element in the broader agenda of AMEC to build on last year's Barcelona Principles and shape the measurement agenda going forward.
Maybe it's jet lag, or a just a dose of realism, but I have serious doubts about whether all these smart people and their hard work are setting anyone's agendas, or having any impact at all.
Take this delightful quote:
That from the same Kantar that sent 11 people to the Lisbon Summit and was there when we voted on the Barcelona Principles. Yet those delegates don't have enough clout with the PR department to convince them that PR is isn't "free publicity" and that equating exposure to revenue is completely bogus?
Or Ketchum, who's own David Rockland headed up both the session that approved the Barcelona Prinpciples AND the session in Lisbon to set the agenda going forward. Yet on it's web site you can find a description of how it measures social media, under the heading: Advertising Equivalency:
Developed based on research of published rates by BlogAds and counsel/guidance from Omnicom's OMD, the Zócalo Group AdEq calculates the equivalent advertising costs of EDE."If we get XX number of EDE through earned social media marketing, what would it cost to reach the same number of people through paid ads?"
The AdEq is now developed for blogs and forums, and work is underway to develop AdEq for Twitter, social networks (Facebook, MySpace, etc.), and picture/video sharing sites.
Or Hill & Knowlton, who's own Ruth Pestana lead the task force to create new "validated metrics" that have become the better alternative to AVEs. On it's web site it features a case study that includes the following:
The programme gained huge success and advertising value achieved from media coverage exceeded HK$1 million within the first month after the PR campaign was launched.
"a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Now I realize that no one in Lisbon or Barcelona is an idiot, and I am fully aware that the thought leaders in Lisbon are far removed from the internal marketers that provide quotes to PR Week or content for the webs sites. But my point is that unless management at the highest level of the big agencies and media groups buy into these principles we so enthusiastically vote for, all the votes and all the prinicples will signify nothing.
I took a lot of heat last year for advocating an industry boycott of firms offering Ad Value Equivalency. My arguement was that the times called for bold moves, and unless someone took some action, the Barcelona Principles would be looked upon as just more PR hot air. The good news is that some agencies did fully endorse them. And judging from the calls I've been getting, more and more large agencies and their clients are looking for alternatives.
But unless we get alignment within organizations on what constitutes real PR measurement, we will never achieve our stated priorities that we voted on in Lisbon. Here they are:
- How to measure the return on investment (ROI) of public relations (89%)
- Create and adopt global standards for social media measurement (83%)
- Measurement of PR campaigns and programmes 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%)
If our web sites and our senior managment still think that the ROI of PR is AVEs, that a standard for social media measurement is a social media version of AVEs and that AVEs should be part of a PR toolkit, we are worse than idiots. We are hypocrites.