The Measurement Industry: Mergers, Meteors, and Dinosaurs

Cision T-Rex at PRSA 2104

The Paine of Measurement

Like casinos in New Jersey, car companies, and airlines, the world of PR measurement has reached a critical juncture where consolidation is inevitable. When I started Delahaye in 1987 there were just two other companies that measured PR. Now there are more than 400 who claim to measure results for PR professionals. They include everything from the most basic social monitoring companies like HootSuite to global integrated measurement services companies like Prime Research and Salience Insight.

When told to, “go find us a PR measurement vendor,” PR professionals are faced with a daunting array of choices. The process too frequently ends in a shoot out that I call the “apples to sheep” comparison: The final vendors in the running are frequently the two with the most aggressive sales people — not the two that might actually do the job required.

So for PR professionals, the news of all the recent consolidations makes their lives a little easier. If nothing else, there are fewer choices.  Last year brought the merger of CARMA, Report International, Salience, and my old company KDPaine & Partners. Last week monitoring company Lexus Nexus bought Moreover, which was long the feed for many monitoring companies. The week before, three of the largest players in the space, Vocus, Cision, and Visible, all united under a single brand, Cision. It’s a name that has not gotten better with age; this is what I think of that choice.

In a move that was both baffling and remarkably appropriate, the new Cision chose to promote itself at last week’s PRSA International Conference by hiring a human in a dinosaur suit to wander through the exhibit hall.

To a certain extent, the tacky T-Rex was the perfect metaphor for both the company it represented as well as our industry.

Cision is antidiluvian compared to far more sophisticated platforms like Prime and NetBase. But the bigger story is the outmoded world of PR troglodytes that still cling to AVEs and HITS, and the suppliers like  Cision, iSentia, and Vocus who insist on providing them. The time of these holdouts, who ignore the power of data that is now at our fingertips, is fast coming to an end. An increasing emphasis on real business results combined with better technology and a new generation of researchers and analysts is the meteor that will soon wipe out the old world of PR measurement. The only question is: What dinosaurs will still be around for it to hit? ∞

(Katie Paine photo)

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.