On Saturday August 19th 2017 the first MeasureCamp in the Nordic countries was held in Copenhagen.
MeasureCamp is a brilliant concept – an unconference – during which the schedule is designed by the attendees themselves. The format is dynamic, fun and facilitates engagement and networking in a way I have never experienced before at any other conference.
MeasureCamp – a different kind of analytics conference
MeasureCamp was created back in 2012 by the Australian Peter O’Neill, who had come to Copenhagen in August for its Nordic premiere.
In short, it is a conference about anything related to measurement and analytics. As such, it attracts a lot of people that work in that field but I was relieved to discover that it actually attracts a very broad demographic. Thus, although I am a PR measurement guy, I did not feel left out or unable to understand anything that was going on, even though I don’t sit with my nose in Google Analytics 10 hours a week.
The discussions and presentations during the day varied from e.g. “Datalayer Standards” or “Is BigQuery the answer to all digital analytics prayers?” to more down-to-earth topics like “Women in Analytics” and “The current and future persona of web analytics”. For a full list of all the sessions check out the sessions board.
What the heck is an unconference?
The reason this conference is different from anything else you have ever tried or heard of, is that it really isn’t a conference at all. It is what Peter calls an unconference.
That means that the entire event is only loosely scheduled beforehand (i.e. things like starting time and breaks are set). But all the sessions during the day take place in a number of parallel tracks and are completely unplanned. They are left open for the attendees to decide for themselves!
How does that work, you may wonder? It actually works brilliantly. After breakfast and a joint welcome the attendees were lead to “the wall” which was completely blank at 10 a.m. But by the time the first sessions were starting at 11.10 a.m. a number of attendees had put up notes about presentations they would like to give or talks they would like to invite people to come and get involved in.
Once sessions were posted on the board, attendees would simply pick the one they preferred during a given time slot and walk to that room and participate. As such, some sessions could draw a big crowd and others would become small, intimate discussions. The speakers did not know in advance, nor did the organizers.
I wasn’t planning on speaking at MeasureCamp because I didn’t think I had anything to say that hardcore analytics people would be interested in. But as soon as I discovered on the morning in question that literally ‘anything goes’ at an unconference as Peter O’Neill put it, I got intrigued and ended up hosting a presentation and discussion that I made up on the fly: “Analytics in the value chain of communication measurement”, which drew a crowd of almost 30 people!
Therapy – and beer
My favourite session of the day was the last one: Peter O’Neill hosted “Analytics Therapy”. We all sat in a circle and in turn simply told the group what sort of frustrations we were dealing with in regard to using analytics – either in our own business or with clients. Anyone who shared the pain (situation) of the person speaking was encouraged to raise their cold beer in a sympathy salute – and have a sip if they felt like it.
Let’s just say, by the end of the second time around the room most of us needed a refill! 🙂
The analytics therapy was great fun because it gave all of us a chance to bond and be vulnerable in a friendly environment. And it actually caused a lot of laughs because some of the pains shared were so common – but everyone has a tendency to think they are the only one struggling with such issues.
A great experience
The unconference format was a refreshing experience worth remembering if you are ever hosting an event. It may feel a little nerve-racking to leave everything to the initiative of the attendees but as MeasureCamp has demonstrated repeatedly for a number of years now, people actually enjoy hosting small (and large) talks about their favorite topic or pet peeve or just enjoy the chance to get qualified input and feedback from a lot of other enthusiastic and skilled professionals.
It creates a great atmosphere and people get together and talk and exchange ideas to an extent, which I have never experienced before at any other conference.
If you want to connect with MeasureCamp Copenhagen and get the latest news about next year’s event as they become available, I recommend you join the Facebook Group.
For MeasureCamp events all over the world, check out MeasureCamp.org.
Photo credits: Emilia Ciarcia