What a Year for Measurement! 2018’s Trends, Turmoil, and Transitions

The Paine of Measurement—To paraphrase Jon Lovett of Pod Save America fame, “What a year.” And we’re not even talking politics! (Well, yet, anyway, see below.) 2018 has witnessed some truly significant upheavals in the measurement world. For our 2018 best-of awards, see our article “Paine Publishing’s Official Top 10 Best Things to Happen to Communications Measurement in 2018.”

Right now, let’s have a more general discussion:

Trust the Media Much?

First off, the decline in trust has shaken the faith in much of what is measured these days. As consumers put less faith in media, and become far more skeptical about social media in particular, the easy things to measure like impressions and social engagement now matter far less. This raises the bar and makes accurate and meaningful measurement much more critical going forward. The good news here for us measurement wonks is that they’ll need our help if they want valid and useful evaluation.

Midterms a Mixed Bag

The mid-term elections somewhat redeemed our trust in research and polling. Most of the results came in pretty close to what 538 and other high-quality pollsters predicted. Sure there were a few upsets, and we give them due respect in our 10 Best column.

Crisis Is the New Normal

Over the past year crises were almost too numerous to mention. This put communications front and center, not just in marketing but in finance and risk management as well. For a quick review of the most egregious, as well as the crowning of our comms crisis Loser of the Year, see our article “The Worst Communications Disasters of 2018.”

Who Is Left to Buy?

There were the usual purchases and consolidations on the measurement front, what with Cision buying Prime Research, Brandwatch buying Crimson Hexagon, Adobe buying Marketo, Ipsos buying Synthesio, and SAP buying survey research giant Qualtrics. None were particularly unexpected. We knew that consolidation would only accelerate, the only question now is who is left to buy?

New Roles at the Top

By far the more interesting developments were on the personnel side. Long time AMEC head Barry Leggetter declared his intention to retire early in 2018, launching a flurry of speculation as to who could or would replace him. When it was announced that long time BurrellesLuce measurement guru Johna Burke would leave her post of umpteen years to take over the reins of AMEC there was universal acclaim.

Soon afterwards, Richard Bagnall, who helped lead the search for Leggetter’s replacement, further stunned the measurement scene with the news that he would leave his post at Prime to join Carma as its Co-Managing Partner, and CEO for Europe and the Americas.

Business Impact Measurement Rules

But by far the most significant in-the-trenches development in 2018 was that communications finally woke to the concept of measuring business impact, casting off many of the silly metrics we’ve seen for years. In survey after survey and speech after speech we heard people emphasizing the need to tie PR to business outcomes. We saw research from Proof indicate that finance is taking an interest in communications metrics. And I’ve certainly seen a surge in requests for integrated dashboards.

Your Talents Are in Big Demand: Congrats!

Also, on the good news front, the latest research from the annual Cision/PR Week study suggests that all you Measurement Sherpas out there should be demanding raises. They found a strong increase in interest in data analysts and demand for insights. One of the biggest increases cited was a need for talent to understand and use the data. (Imagine that?)

Their findings also showed that measurement spend is up to 16% of budget compared to 11% in 2017. And nearly half (49%) of their respondents now say they spend at least 10% of their budget on measurement. More than half of their respondents (54%) place analytics and reporting among the top 3 most important activities, up from 45% last year.

Elsewhere in this issue we take this occasion to reprise some of the best and worst things to happen over the past year. And to ease you into 2019, and help us get over these challenges, we’ve put together some gifts for you, our loyal readers, which we hope you will enjoy.

Happy Holidays, and Measure On,

About Author

Katie Paine

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