Each year we poll the measurement cognoscenti to anticipate likely developments in public relations and social media measurement during the year to come. Below are predictions from nine of measurement’s finest minds.
Wait a minute. How about last year's predictions: How did those work out? As a matter of fact, many, and perhaps most, of last year's 27 predictions came to pass. You'll have to judge for yourself, however, which ones were actually Nostradamus-level prescient, as many were either loosely phrased ("more Facebook commerce") or very general ("increasing interest in big data," "increasing mergers and acquisitions").
I'm proud to say that we predicted -- more or less -- the surge in native ads for mobile ("Major breakthroughs in mobile applications and mobile advertising"), and the concern over Facebook and Google's use of data ("Increased focus and value in consumer behavior data…"). And, yes, the Eurozone did muddle through, (with Croatia joining as the 28th member state in July), and Manchester United triumphed over Aston Villa last April to win the Premier League championship (see Giselle Bodie's Man U update just below).
On to this year's predictions:
Chief Executive Officer, Salience Insight
- A maturer and, dare I say, more measured approach to social media measurement where we all recognise its importance, but don’t get so carried away with ‘trying to measure everything all the time’. SM metrics and the technology used will continue to develop at a fast and competitive pace, but the market is less likely to get carried away with the often-empty promises of the ‘next new shiny thing’.
- As a result of #1. above, communications professionals will return to basics by challenging the measurement industry to focus on ‘what difference did our communications make’ by linking sensible objectives to sensible results.
- I certainly won’t be predicting another league win for Man U this year, what with a change of Manager from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes, they are having a torrid time this year. How the mighty are fallen...
Executive Vice President; Global Lead, Measurement & Analytics, Edelman Berland
- Measurement will not be enough as it will need to deliver insights that impact the business.
- Measurement will support both the local and global objectives. Companies will increasingly look to consolidated their global and local measurement programs.
- Greater emphasis on real-time measurement – seeing the impact as it happens.
- Greater integration of social media into public relations will lead to integration of measurement metrics.
Managing Director, US, Salience Insight
- Without question, the market has grown tired of automated solutions that produce high error rates and no insight. Even the promise of low pricing isn’t enough. At some level, automated volume tagging is still needed, but now as only part of the package, with human analysis and reporting being the rest.
- With standards for measuring social media as part of an overall program so clearly defined through the Institute for Public Relations, the Social Media Conclave, AMEC, and other organizations, the PR market will stop focusing on simple metrics and start focusing on discovering what is not so obvious in the data – real insight.
- We will start taking our lives back! The infatuation we’ve all had with social media has also come with a cost: 24/7 behind a computer screen. Engaging audiences will be harder without something really important to say.
- Mergers and acquisitions in the PR analysis space will continue, resulting in stronger firms and better resources for clients.
- PR research and media analysis as careers will continue to take off measurement/evaluation is becoming mainstream for all major PR programs.
President, Likely Communications Strategies
- ROI will go the way of AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) in PR and Communications. AVE, as a financial measure, was inaccurate, inappropriate and dishonest. So is how many in PR/C are using the ROI financial term (see Fraser's recent article on this).
Chief Executive Officer of News Group International
- The return of Outputs. With social media majors building/buying measurement operations they will push and promote basic output measures that will become the most publicised metrics world-wide - thereby putting downward pressure on demand for outcome measurement.
- We are on the cusp of major industry consolidation with large scale M&A activity.
- The FIBEP congress in Dubai will play an important role in shaping the future of media intelligence; its theme of integration will resonate for years to come.
Editor, The Measurement Standard
- Standards will rule. As measurement standards become increasingly adopted, research will become faster and easier. Clean and actionable data will become more readily available. More types of research will become possible and cost-effective.
Corollary #1: Measurement pros will be able to turn their focus from acquiring data to gleaning insight from it. The measurement profession will increasingly become focused on research design and strategy. Measurement pros will become known more as "social scientists," and less as "practitioners."
Corollary #2: As PR becomes more able to measure its more sophisticated results, it will be more valued for its ability to deal with strategic concerns. The C-suite will beckon. PR will get finally get some respect, as demonstrated in popular entertainment, where an unscrupulous PR person will be referred to as an "evil PR genius."
- Likes will suck. A Facebook Like will become understood as sharing the superficialness of the IRL social interactions it mimics. "Please Like us on Facebook" will become a joke, recognized as a desperate plea for a meaningless endorsement.
- Social media will be recognized as addictive. As social media platforms become ever more common, seductive, and irresistible, social media addiction will become recognized by the medical establishment as a bona fide mental illness. A market will develop in personal techniques and devices to block, filter, and manage social media. "Social Media Guru" will change its meaning to that of someone who is an expert in helping people avoid social media's addictive pitfalls. Social media's new and unhealthy status will be recognized in popular entertainment, where an unscrupulous social media entrepreneur will be referred to as an "evil social media genius." The Surgeon General will consider warning labels.
- We’ll tune in, then we’ll drop out. Companies using big data to insert themselves in customers lives will find themselves shut out of those lives. While millennials seem to be immune, for the rest of the population the increasingly obvious and creepy attempts by brands to insert their products in our daily lives will turn off a large percentage of the buying public and drive people away from Facebook and its ilk.
- PESO and POE are doomed. By this time next year the concept that anyone can differentiate between what is Paid, Owned, and Earned will be considered a cute anachronism. It’s hard enough to do anyway on mobile devices and no one under 30 even cares.
- A hard rain’s going to fall on PR and measurement. Thanks to better response rates, “Native advertising” (i.e., paid content that is disguised as earned media – what we old timers considered advertorials) is sucking up ever larger percentages of advertising budgets. This comes at a time when PR people are working diligently to create better, more interesting content that earns a place in the reader’s mind, and ideally generates an increased trust between brand and consumer. The trouble is that it will be increasingly difficult for the consumer to tell the difference.
Fadl al Tarzi
Chief Executive Officer of SocialEyez
- Video content will become core to all companies wanting to effectively communicate on social media platforms.
- The honeymoon phase will continue to die down when it comes to social media; companies will demand more performance-based marketing with measurable results.
- Internet of things / wearable technology will continue to grow and provide new channels through which brands can communicate with their audience.
- Facebook reach will continue to decrease as they make it increasingly more expensive for brands to communicate with their fans.
- 2014 will be a decisive year for Instagram—make it or break it in terms of ad revenue.
CEO, Prime Research
- There is currently a shift to what I refer to as ‘the third wave’ in media analysis. The first wave was manual coding for traditional media which was slow but accurate. The second wave was the shift to totally automated solutions to cope with the volume and velocity of social media which was fast and consistent but produced irrelevant content and inaccurate data. The third wave marries the speed and consistency of technology with the accuracy, actionable insights and strategic guidance.
- As a research-based consultant, I predict that clients will become more and more frustrated with first and second-wave research providers and shift their preference to those few consultants who combine content with context in providing global solutions which cater to both social and traditional media.