AMEC 2019: Data is a journey, not the destination!

That seemed to be a key theme at this year’s AMEC Global Summit. This past week, AMEC – the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications – hosted its annual Summit and Awards in Prague. It was two full days of learning, sharing and networking across a wide array of measurement-related topics with 310 delegates across 39 different countries. The overall theme for this year’s summit was: Analytics, Algorithms and Augmentation.

Continuing with what we typically enjoy at this Summit, there were some amazing examples of the Integrated Framework in action (click here to access the free framework tool) from Diageo, Adobe, and Sage showcasing how powerful good measurement and analytics can be! As an AMEC Board member and the North American Chapter Chair, it was extremely heartening to see how many of these frameworks have evolved to now include actual Outcomes and Impact KPIs. The room was energized by the advanced work these companies showcased and how transparent they were about their process.

amec summit

Beyond the case studies we all look forward to each year, there were definitely new trends to take in. Some of the major takeaways included:

Still struggling for relevance.
We are still fighting to get sufficient funding and understanding. Allyson Hugley cited the 2019 Annenberg report saying that, “…only 12 percent of CEOs and 14 percent of in-house communicators consider marshalling data and analytics to gain insights into opinions, issues and trends among the most important goals for the organization in the year ahead.” It was a common theme that, while getting better, we still have a way to go. Richard Bagnall, AMEC Chairman, gave a first look at the AMEC Global Business Insight Study and shared that the largest frustration is still getting buy-in on the importance of measurement and analytics from senior leaders.

Be prepared for failure… and, it is ok to fail! In fact, one speaker went so far as to say, “fail forward, innovation comes from not being afraid to get things wrong.” Success is not the best teacher – so, embrace when you have failed and use it to make your next steps smarter and better.

Thought partners. Not just data partners.
Many speakers discussed the need to move beyond just “reporting.” In fact, Johannah Livermore of QIC said that they have implemented forums into their approach. In these forums the data is presented to all stakeholders and then they discuss and debate the “so what” and the “now what.” As Daniel Stauber, a Marketing Science Expert at Facebook said – “Today’s measurement is tomorrow’s strategy.”

Optimizing is more important than a report.
There was a lot of emphasis on good outcomes vs. fast outcomes and setting optimization objectives. Too often we all just create a report at the end of a program – when it is really the ongoing metrics that make us smarter and more strategic in our thinking. Daniel Stauber discussed how Facebook encouraged some of their clients to A/B test messages and audiences as they went, instead of spending a lot of time defining audiences up front and then waiting to see if it worked. Their case study saw a major improvement just because they were able to make smart real-time updates.

Data centralization supports efficiency.
While it seems obvious, this was another prevalent theme throughout the conference. Having easy access to your data, knowing where it is coming from and being able to own it has benefits. As Vladimir Petkov, Chief Technology Officer, A Data Pro, outlined – having access to your own data empowers you to automate, utilize machine learning, generate long-term analyses, and secure the knowledge within the company. Adobe used this same approach and drastically decreased the amount of reporting internally – they had 900+ reports at one point! To do this, Adobe created one data warehouse that all partners could access.

New skills could mean new rules.
Emma Leech, CIPR UK President, shared that automation is threatening 27 percent of PR jobs, and that number is growing fast. Research, planning, implementation and evaluation are the top skills on employer’s wish lists, but we are not preparing our workforce for this. As new skills enter into the picture, we need to stop acting like PR itself is not changing. How does the industry need to adapt – what are the new rules of engagement?

The audience needs to be at the center.
I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion along with Jonny Bentwood of Golin and Nadin Vernon of PRIME on the customer journey, the customer experience and the future of analytics. While the journey was a running theme throughout the conference, we really focused in on the need to go beyond basic reporting. By putting the audience at the center of all your measurement, planning, strategy, etc. you are better informed to make more strategic decisions. We need to be able to reach the right people, through the right channels, with the right message, at the right time. We cannot do that if we have not thought through the audience journey, and if we are not constantly tracking it for optimization.

I encourage you to check out #AMECSummit on Twitter to follow some of the amazing conversation. I also encourage you to go to their website, where the presentations and sketch notes will be housed.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes:

  • “If we put more time, money and effort into measurement and evaluation we will be able to prove our worth, so we can charge more for our strategic work and will then be able to recruit and retain better talent.” – Francis Ingham, Director General PRCA and Chief Executive ICCO
  • “Most charts count things that are easy to count – not measuring the things that actually matter.” – Richard Bagnall, AMEC Chairman and Co-Managing Partner and CEO – CARMA Europe and the Americas
  • “The best things in life are free. Like love… and open source frameworks.” – Vladimir Petkov, Chief Technology Officer, A Data Pro
  • “If you can’t prove impact, you can’t expect to keep your budget… and you don’t deserve to.” Andy West, Group Chief Development Officer, Hotwire Global and AMEC International Board Member
  • “The PR professional of today is not the professional of tomorrow. Let’s stop recruiting in our own image and bring in new diverse and analytical talent.” Jon Meakin, Global Business Development Director and AMEC International Board Member

We also left AMEC with some shiny new hardware. Check it out here.

amec sketch data analytics 2019