Measurement Consolidation Looms Large at AMEC Conference in Lisbon

The following are just some of the highlights from various sessions I attended at the recent AMEC (The Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication) Summit from June 8-10 in Lisbon. Other great speakers contributed valuable information, much of which can be downloaded in about 30 days from—be watching it.

The Future of the Media: Content Is King

John Croll, CEO, Media Monitors Group, Australia – The industry doesn’t have a huge future without the addition of service elements. Content is still king, but how we use it is changing drastically.

  • Copyright is second largest expense for Media Monitors, but the Australian market is stable and his firm has one licensing agreement in place for all. 80% of content is in PDF form.

  • Newspaper readership is down 7% in Australia, but media is not hurting as much as elsewhere.

  • Asia is completely fragmented regarding copyright; in China, copying is the norm.

  • PR must write the patterns in the noise; it must move to service and analysis.

  • Clients don’t care about the actual clips; they just want to know where it ran – on iPad, mobile, etc., and the metrics around it.

  • The next big fight in the U.K. will be over the use of headlines and abstracts.

The Future Is Consolidation and Emergence of Bigger Global Groups: Statement or Question?

Martin Murtland, VP & Managing Director, Dow Jones – Global providers will buy or merge, or will invest organically to grow or enter the market. Others will exit by selling. Still others may create loose global network of partners.

Jeremy Thompson, Managing Director, Gorkana Group (bought Metrica and Durrants) – Key drivers:

  • Integration of services from one company; better technology and dashboards.

  • Problem: Technology is lowering barriers to entry for new providers like Meltwater (worth $100 million), and Google will stumble into the market.

  • Increasingly global business; more RFPs than ever.

  • PR was up 10% in the U.K.; outlook is poor in Europe.

  • The rise of procurement and scale are also drivers (larger businesses are growing faster than smaller ones).

  • Acquisitions are fueling growth; plenty of opportunity, but lots of risk.

  • Bottom line: It's all consolidation.

Giselle Bodie, COO, Kantar Media Europe – Discussing consolidation:


  • Better and more cost-effective use of tech for scalable services.

  • Easier to attract best staff.

  • Makes for barriers to entry.

  • One-stop shop attractive to clients.

  • Higher margins with less competition and more efficiencies possible.


  • Problems consolidating platforms and methodologies and migrating clients.

  • Loss of agility and innovation.

  • Those most responsive to change will survive.

Mazen Nahawi, President, News Group International – Questions that consolidation is good for the consumer. He believes in streamlined consolidation, which may not mean bigger, but the opposite—more efficiency, capability, integration and service.

John Croll, CEO, Media Monitors Group, Australia – Consolidation has cut down 15 monitoring companies into only two.

  • Investment in technology and product development is increasing.

  • Enormous uptick in clients wanting regional AsiaPac coverage.

Yann Blandy, CEO, Cision Europe – Cision stress-tested its own model and decided to divest of many properties.

  • Our fragmented market offer great consolidation opportunities. The first wave has been in the “old world” countries. But those countries show low growth.

  • The BRICS and Next 11 are where the growth is—the future is the consolidation of bigger global groups. Macroeconomics will play a role. It seems doubtful that local/regional players and boutique consultancies will play a big role.

Open Discussion:

  • Barrier to entry extremely low for social media, but not for traditional measurement.

  • Language is a huge problem for social.

  • Smaller players need to go global as well. 

  • Google is primarily grabbing the small clients right now.

  • It all comes down to being good at what you do. Google lost China. No one company can do everything around the world. People who are good at specialization will dominate.

  • Don’t flood clients with information; many don’t care about a gorgeous dashboard with lousy relevance and influence measures.


Moving Toward Global Standards for Social Media Measurement

Richard Bagnall, Managing Director, Metrica – There are two major issues: ownership and confusion. Ownership – PR must stake its claim and AMEC is the right group to do so. Confusion Reigns – Over 200 companies have moved into the measurement space saying they can measure social media now, and they don’t agree with each other.

Metrica did an RFP on three firms last year with a defined issue and then compared the results:

  • Number of posts ranged from 451,000 – 281,000

  • All disagreed with what was relevant.

  • Overlap between three firms was only 20%

  • Compared channels (forums, microblogs, etc.) in which they all varied, and no firm was good at all of them.

  • Speed and delay – major differences in outage times.

  • Sentiment accuracy – compared to human scores, all three firms turned in scores no better than chance.

  • One size does not fit all in metrics. You can't focus on easy-to-count metrics and phony indices. There's no magic bullet.

Katie Paine, Founder, CEO, KDPaine & Partners – All the social media founders have tried to put metrics together. Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Forrester, they've all discussed problems with monitoring – that you’re going to miss stuff whether searching broadly or narrowly; that Conversation Analysis is much more sophisticated than sentiment; that sophisticated concepts can’t be boiled down to a simple taxonomy; that competitive benchmarking is difficult because a company’s reason for being in social media may be different than a competitor's; that free polling doesn’t yield validity statistically; that the process of integrating social media with CRM/e-commerce isn’t defined; that social media applies to almost all departments in a corporation, not just communications; and that we have to define the part of the social media metrics pie we want to tackle. 

Other organizations are defining the terms:

  • Web Analytics Association – farthest along; has 35 definitions now.

  • Interactive Ad Bureau – social ads versus behaviorally targeted ads; a Facebook ad versus a Twitter sponsorship, for example – incorporating response

  • Ad Research Foundation – defining eight ways of listening

Tim Marklein, Practice Leader, WCG – Open Discussion - What type of standards would be most beneficial? How do you define, measure, and is the data available/transparent?

Engagement – Interaction has to be involved, not just impressions. Maybe it is a comment, or a sharing of content. Media Monitors looks at “effort” – a retweet is an effort.

Influence – Influence has to be topic-centric, but defining a topic can be thorny. 

  • Don’t start by looking for influential individuals with the Klout score, but rather look at the market areas that are important, and back out the influencers from there. Consider using TRAAKER – a keyword influence-determining system.

  • Influence is the likeliness that an outlet or individual can drive engagement.

Sentiment – Sentiment should be customized to each client.

Content Sourcing Lable for Vendors – There is some belief that all social media vendors should have a sourcing label (like the U.S. nutrition label) as to which metrics are being used (Nielsen, comScore), and agreement on basic coding, and a standard method for determining the value of fans and followers.

Advocacy Evaluation – A New Type of Challenge for a Global Charity

Claire Hutchings, Global Advisor-Monitoring, Oxfam (confederation of 14 affiliates in 99 countries)

  • Increasing appetite for going beyond outputs (monitoring & evaluation); trying to identify the causal chain behind process and outcomes.

  • Difficult to tease out their contributions compared to other coalitions on same issue.

  • Scale and nature of global campaigns are tough to measure.

  • Needs to produce information useful for advocates in real time; a data-rich picture; and then build in time for reflection to learn.

The Lisbon Legacy – Chaired by David Rockland, PhD, Partner/CEO, Ketchum Pleon Change and Global Research

Part One: What the industry believes is important – results from industry survey:

Most important issues in next five years:

  • Benefits of measuring PR

  • Impact of PR on business goals

  • Understanding social media measurement

  • Measurement must go beyond clips

  • Marketing mix modeling

Greatest barriers to adoption of standardized research techniques:

  • Lack of understanding

Current state of PR measurement:

  • Educating clients a top priority

  • Common definitions on ROI

  • Barcelona is a good start, but must go further

  • Need a common set of standards

Part Two: How do we get PR professionals to take measurement more seriously?

PRSA - Ben Levine (Senior Project Manager, Ketchum Global Research Network)

  • PRSA has strong commitment to promoting measurement with its strategic partnership with AMEC.

ICCO – Richard Houghton (President)

  • Wants standard approach to traditional and social that has been endorsed by clients. Activities must cross 28 countries at different levels of maturity.

IPR – Professor Donald Wright, Boston University

  • IPR will be focusing on sophisticated research in many topic areas moving forward. One of the top subjects is social media.

AMEC – Mike Daniels (Chairman)

  • Measurement is growing 14% per year; clients are seeking measurement even if they are not sure what represents a best practice; AMEC is helping drive this.

  • We need to offer more insight; move beyond data and outputs; listen to client concerns. If we stay with data, we stay tactical.

  • Clients will thank us for partnering, not simply servicing; we must become invaluable to outcomes.

  • We must integrate with marketing and brand strategists, and show how media analysis informs other parts of the business.

Council of PR Firms – Tim Marklein, Practice Leader, WCG

  • Council Chairman Andy Polansky (Weber Shandwick) has instructed the organization to build on the Barcelona Principles. A new measurement committee has been formed for best practices, industry standards and agency adoption.

  • They have an “Engagement Workgroup” developing a standard definitions of social media.

  • Measurement “at the end” needs to become “analytics all the time.” Quarterly measurement is totally outdated; clients need weekly or monthly data.

  • We must show engagement – the impact. Shift away from impressions.

  • We can’t use the term “ROI” casually; it’s money in, money out. 

  • The value of PR is greater than ROI – it is tangible + intangible, near term + lasting.

Part Three – What’s missing to put measurement on the map? What the Client Thinks?

André Manning, Global Head, External Communications and Acting Head Global Marketing & Communications, Royal Philips Electronics – They spend a great deal on measurement for 14 people at headquarters and 20 people around the world. They needed to come up with a consistent standard; they had 20-30 systems to begin with. Then WPP’s OneVoice came on board and solved the problem. They had to make hard choices. For instance, they now only measure 15 media instead of 300 in a market, based on budget and also what media is really relevant.


  • Are we maintaining, growing or losing presence in media?

  • What is our sentiment relative to competitors?

  • Is communications conveying our key brand and product messages?


  • Is the audience aware of our products?

  • What is the brand relevance?

  • What is the brand reputation?

Business Results:

  • How does communications impact bottom-line financial results? His staff must be able to use business language with operations people.

  • Has a 24-hour dashboard including social media with total fans. They still struggle with what social means from a business perspective. They use a variety of metrics including the Net Promoter Score, volume, message penetration, article counts, impressions, tone and a qualitative scorecard.

Manning does not believe the Net Promoter Score is the final answer. He wants the industry to come up with KPIs that drive revenues. How does reputation drive brand equity? How do we quantify the value of communications on incremental sales? How does an NPS score in media drive purchase, recommendation, advocacy and consideration? How should social media be measured?

Part Four – Expert Worldwide Panel

  • Peter Granat, AMEC Board Director and President & COO, Cision North America – It’s up to us as an industry to come up with the floor for metrics. Encourage IPR and PRSA to set the stage around common definitions of both social and traditional.

  • Laura Garcia, CEO, Global News (South Africa) – Has global clients who want sophisticated metrics, and local clients who don’t.

  • Mazen Nahawi, President, News Group International – Challenged attendees to come up with a way to standardize across 200 countries.

  • Michael O’Connell, Managing Director, The Media Research Group (AsiaPac) – It’s our job to come up with metrics and to educate the C-suite.

This session was the major focus of the conference, resulting in four imperatives for the future of PR measurement. See full details. 

ROI: Definitions, Language and Change

Professor Tom Watson, The Media School, Bournemouth University

  • "ROI" is a term commonly and non-specifically used by PR practitioners when discussing the value to be created from communication activities (Watson & Zerfass 2011).

  • The IPR stated in 2004 that true ROI can only rarely be used with communications programs.

  • PR is gradually adopting ROI, but with varying definitions and not in a true financial sense.

  • Personal survey showed that consultants and freelancers use ROI term more than in-house.

  • Of those surveyed, 64% opposed the idea of an industry-wide ROI score. 

Liney Arnorsdottir, Senior Research Associate, Ketchum Pleon Change and Global Research - standing in for Andre Manning of Philips

  • Andre made the case for non-financial ROI metrics for the PR industry.

  • ROI is based on incremental revenue/incremental costs, so where does the effect of communications factor in?

  • Recommended PR focuses on the reason to purchase.

  • There is an indirect association between PR and sales.

  • We need to show ROI across a range of financial and non-financial indicators.

Cindy Connor
, Manager of Reputation Research and Trends, FedEx

  • The ROI term must be a financial benefit.

  • PR may have a timing problem in that it affects other parts of the consideration funnel.

  • KPMG takes the view that you can monetize something, but that still won’t be acceptable for the balance sheet.

Natasha Fogel, Executive Vice President, Global Research & Measurement,  StrategyOne

  • Clients expect agencies to produce timely and accurate data with insights to inform planning.

  • Key with clients is figuring out where they are in the measurement maturity cycle. If you talk correlations to outcomes too soon, you lose them.

  • Concerned about shiny dashboards – new toy wins, but it’s not necessarily the best for the client.

Tim Marklein, Practice Leader, WCG

  • Whatever your metric, it won’t work without buy-in from the client's VP of sales.

Angela Jeffrey is VP, integrated media, for VMS. She is also a member of the Institute for Public Relations' Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation. She also is a contributor to PR News' just-published PR Measurement Guidebook, Vol. 5.