At this year’s recent Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement 20 high-level communicators—representing pharma, airlines, defense, higher education, healthcare, and of course the measurement industry—hung out in my living room and talked about what the future will bring. Afterwards we had lobster dinner together; that’s us above.
While we had 20 different answers to the question “What’s the future of communications measurement?” there was surprising consistency about the trends we predicted:
1. AI and data analysis
Everyone agreed that AI and data analysis will be an ever-larger part of the communications toolkit, not just for measurement but also for responding to crises, managing risk, and even writing press releases. Given the data that many companies already have, available technology could, if we used it correctly, tell us what the most effective response to a crisis is and how to best de-escalate a situation before it turns into a crisis.
2. More analysts and technology types
The increasing reliance on data will bring more analysts and technology types into the communications sphere. Everyone agreed that the ideal candidate is someone who loves math and data more than words. It’s just easier to teach someone about communications than it is to teach them about analytics.
3. A more holistic view of the value of communications
The biggest trend is a more holistic view of the value of communications. It’s not just somehow “helping the bottom line” or “ bringing in more leads” or even “getting impressions.” Increasingly, CCOs and CEOs are emphasizing the measurement of how their organization impacts the planet, society, and the communities in which it lives. Communications will be at the center of that discussion. Building (or in many cases, rebuilding) trust is going to be a skill in much demand, and few traditional CEOs or COOs have it.
4. Data privacy
The other huge challenge we have is data privacy. There’s a possibility that a lot of the data that we rely on to “measure” our results is the result of social platforms’ intrusive tracking techniques. If government decides that it is no longer an acceptable practice, how will we measure our results?
5. A crisis-financial connection
One year from now, someone will have correlated the data from a dozen modern crises with the corresponding stock prices and/or market share data to figure out how best to respond to a tweet or an employee doing something stupid—or, God forbid, a shooting.
6. ROI less important for the future of communications measurement
Three years from now, the need to prove that you are actually doing something about diversity and inclusion, the health of your communities, and climate change will eclipse the need to prove ROI or any other currently accepted metric.
7. Climate change to the fore
Five years from now, all we’ll be measuring is how businesses are impacting climate change and the lives of the communities on which their business depends. Chasing the almighty dollar will lose its appeal when so many of your employees and customers will be wondering how, or if, they’ll survive the next flood or fire.
8. RIP AVEs, HITS, and impressions
Ten years from now, I’ll be 77 and we will have finally killed off AVEs, HITS, and impressions. ∞