Last week, the annual AMEC Summit – the world’s largest communication measurement & evaluation conference – was held in beautiful Prague. For two and a half days more than 300 delegates and experts from 39 countries around the world shared insights, case studies, research, tools and ideas.
Estimated reading time: 6 mins 51 seconds
Such an event is impossible to capture in all its detail a single post. So, here are my 10 main takeaways:
1. Lack of trust in media has major consequences for our PR strategy
Although the actual spread of fake news has been exaggerated, the media’s extensive coverage of the topic has caused tremendous damage to the public’s general trust in many media outlets, pointed out Allyson Hugley, VP of Global Communications and Head of Analytics and Research at Prudential.
Thus, if we are not aware of which media outlets are considered trustworthy (or not) by our target audiences, it can have detrimental consequences for the PR work we as communication professionals try to execute.
2. We look to the future – not the past
Probably the most interesting takeaway for me this year was the general shift of focus in many of the presentations and workshops from using measurement to document the past to instead using evaluation to inform and shape the future.
We’ve talked about insights for years, but this was the first year that I heard it articulated so clearly. And I think it is a reflection of both the measurement industry and the communication industry’s struggle to retain or increase relevance.
Being shapers of tomorrow certainly makes the world of strategic communication a lot more interesting – and if we succeed, it puts us as communication professionals at the heart of management’s informed decision-making proces – a dream scenario for most of us, I would imagine?
3. Don’t fear to fail – embrace it, learn from it
This was one of the most recurrent themes of the summit – the emphasis on the importance of creating and stimulating a culture of learning. We need to invite failure, so we can learn from mistakes – as opposed to try to cover up or ignore anything that doesn’t look favourable.
‘Success is a lousy teacher’ said Daniel Stauber, Marketing Science Expert at Facebook.
4. Increased centralization and streamlining of solutions
This was another very interesting trend that popped up in the presentations by brands like Adobe and Sage and was mentioned by several others: The move towards a much more centralized media monitoring and analysis solution in which one global provider replaces hundreds of local providers around the world.
When Adobe carried out an audit, they discovered that most of their desired outputs and outcomes were being driven by publicity in a (relatively) small group of Top Tier media – including 77% of website traffic – yet they had been monitoring tens of thousands of sources.
The new, centralized setup removed analysis fragmentation, minimized silos, produced consistency in reporting and methodology and streamlined cooperation between teams across the world.
It also minimized time spent on less productive time-consuming tasks such as translating media clippings – now Adobe’s teams share insights from their markets – not translations.
5. Talent and skills are a must to capitalize on tools and technology
Although the title of this year’s summit suggested a focus on algorithms and technology, we actually spent more time discussing the need for talent and skills in the future of comms. Particularly the requirements to be at least somewhat familiar with data management, analysis and new technology.
To gain maximum benefit from the technological development, we need to focus on adequately educating our staff in the basic skills that are the foundation of more sophisticated tech and data usage.
(P.S. This does not mean that ‘old’ skills like grammar and spelling are becoming any less critical to the business).
6. Data silos are coming down (or should be)
Another interesting trend this year was the talk about communication data being used with other types of data – like production numbers, sales figures, public sentiment, political support and more.
This is probably still a bit like going to the moon for many organisations – but it is an interesting development none the less. And as communication professionals we only benefit from being able to draw on a range of data points.
7. Real-time voice recognition opens a range of fascinating analytics possibilities
One of the more tech-focused presentations was on audio and video monitoring and analysis and I must say I was impressed by how far the technology has come. Voice recognition now has an accuracy of 80-99%, which means that:
- Live transcription of tv, radio, podcasts and more makes ‘audio and video text’ crawl-able, index-able and possible to analyse very fast.
- This opens up a whole new field of SEO as video and audio will start showing up even more in search results.
- Analytics meta data about video and audio also becomes available – e.g. how many times a brand or topic was mentioned, and coders can determine sentiment from transcriptions.
- And because audio og video can now support a SEO strategy, we can expect to see a lot more use of e.g. podcasting, Youtube etc.
Apart from the analytics perspective, the technology also opens up other interesting uses – like banks and airports already using similar systems to record and instantly transcribe and distribute minutes from crisis management meetings to relevant stakeholders.
8. The comms world is not moving at the same pace
When watching award-winners and best practice presentations, it is sometimes easy to forget that you are watching the top of the class so to speak.
This year it became fairly obvious to everyone that, sadly, we are not all moving at the same pace in terms of measurement maturity and sophistication. Indeed, some parts of the world are even going backwards, as illustrated by e.g. AVE usage supposedly being all but eliminated in the UK and USA but alive and well with 70+% usage in Asia and numbers of 50+% in parts of Europe.
This lead to the scorching remark by ICCO Chief Executive and PRCA Director General, Francis Ingham:
‘It is painfully clear to me that several of the large (PR) agencies are simply not practicing the same standards in their offices abroad as they are preaching at home’.
9. Data is beating segmentation and personas
You may soon find that your old target audience segments will be replaced by much more successful data-driven audiences. Facebook gave a fascinating presentation including a case from Polo, in which the company had increased their conversion by almost a factor of 4 – by using data.
The system had performed a split test. The first audience was Polo’s traditional custom built audience. The second series of ads and posts was show to a much wider audience – and a ‘lookalike’ target audience was then gradually built from data about the people that did actually respond and convert.
In other words, every time a person interacted with Polo’s campaign, the system was able to rapidly learn more about who else might be interested. This created a snow-ball effect and lead to a conversion much higher than normal.
The point is: You may be better off throwing a much wider net initially and then letting the data work for you – identifying your ‘perfect’ target audience – rather than try to develop your own segment, which might exclude interested potential customers.
10. Doing something is better than doing nothing
Even though the AMEC Summit presents the very best cases and the latest uses of new technology, I found it very reassuring that even some of the world’s largest brands unashamedly admit that they, too, are sometimes struggling.
It helped create a very positive atmosphere where everyone was genuinely interested in learning and helping advance each other and the industry as a whole.
Measurement and evaluation can be challenging, for sure. But it can also be an incredibly powerful tool that can reap huge rewards. Which is why I will leave you with this sentiment: Doing something – no matter how small – is better than doing nothing.
What do you think about my takeaways? Were you in Prague? If so, what were your big takeaways? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Prague photo credit: Felix Mittermeier on PXHere