Friday, January 23, 2009

Markets, the State and academia


I am involved in the International Group of the CIPR (as Treasurer) and last night it hosted the Maggie Nally Lecture at the Palace of Westminster with Sir Howard Davies, now with the LSE and formally running the FSA, the CBI and being Deputy Governor of the Bank of England - the ideal person from whom to gain a perspective of the current state of the economy.

He did that, but he also offered a rare insight into the flaws of free market economics and the contrast between the Anglo-Saxon Laissez-faire approach and that taken by the ‘more broad minded near continentals’. In particular he spoke about the French attitude where there is growing feeling that the markets must operate with greater oversight, or to use Sir Howard’s expression ‘return of the state’.

Sir Howard spoke about how the Treasury only seriously considers scientifically based research, avoiding any consideration for the less tangible influences like the ethics of wealth and the associated philosophies under pinning them. Some could argue over the merits of a more Gallic approach and as I am so ignorant on this area I would say nothing more than the Treasury’s approach has obviously failed and there is a need for a discussion on issues like the meaning of wealth, how we reward it and the destructive forces which run hand-in-hand with speculation.

London’s financial services boom of the last ten years has largely been built on speculation and Sir Howard indicated that the new raft of market regulation will vastly limit the ‘creativity’ bankers and financiers have. This will limit asset pricing, limiting the relative size of this sector and ultimately London and UK fortunes. In effect these new regulations will not allow London’s financial services boom to happen again.

This might seem a bit off-topic but I think there is a public relations/measurement element to this. Sir Howard talked about the need for ‘translators’ to make the findings from academia of use to the greater public. In many ways the job of these translators is similar to PR in being the conduit between the organisational message and the public consumption. Whilst we are lucky to have some of the greatest researchers in this country it was seen as regrettable that they were not able to convey their finding in a more accessible way, ie the need for these third-party translators.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Measurement Camp ups the pace


Yesterday was the first of this years Measurement Camp monthly meetings, hosted this time by Econsultancy (Thanks Michelle and Aliya!). The 40 or so participants cover a vast cross-section of marketing specialisms, from PR, advertising, online and offline, direct and social media content producers. The breadth of interest and experience has to be unique, all to ponder the single issue of media measurement.

Some of the out-take I got was the overwhelming feeling that people needed to apply measurement to a massive selection of media outputs. Not only across the large number of social media platforms, but with the aim of generating a customised selection of results specific to their circumstances.

The instruments available make it possible to present many many different results sets. Clients don't want to be faced with 100 different metrics, and that is where Measurement Camp comes into its own. The format of the meetings are to take a real or imaginary media campaign and over a period of 2 hours present the best ways we can think of to measure it. The photo above shows our group presenting our finding to the rest.

Getting back to the out-takes; its clear that there will never be a single all-encompassing measure...a metric to to measure all social media; forget it. Through meaningful discussions and education on behalf of the agency, researchers and clients the hope is there should develop a confidence to pick on a couple of the metrics most appropriate. It will also help if examples of best-practice can be promoted as part of this education.

My final thought is on secrecy. There can be no use in agencies adopting a 'smoke and mirrors' approach to methodology. If it is not clear and transparent there can be no justification. I strongly believe that any efforts to cloak methodology will hinder the widespread adoption effective media measurement harming the evaluation agencies, confusing the clients as well as the media agencies.