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6 Lessons from the AMEC Summit

As an agency that’s obsessed with measurement and evaluation, at Clarity we are proud to be members of AMEC (Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications), the organization setting the gold standard for measurement in our industry. 

And last month, it was my pleasure to attend their 14th annual summit, held in the beautiful city of Vienna. It was so great to spend the week with old friends, lockdown connections and network with the incredible AMEC community; but there was lots to learn too…so here’s my main takeaways from a jam-packed week!

  1. Behavioural science is a perfect partner to comms

As a PR degree holder myself, it has always struck me as odd why there’s so little communications theory referenced and applied within our field, but that is changing. We’re now seeing an increasing partnership between the psychological disciplines and communications campaigns, which is wonderful to see. There is so much to be gained when communications campaigns are informed by the science of what drives human behaviour, and ultimately, people’s actions. Attendees across the globe shared campaigns rooted in behavioural science theory and their successes. It’s a perfect match, and one that still has so much more potential to unlock

     2. There is a disconnect between tech vendors and buyers

We heard about a very interesting study that revealed there is a significant difference between what communications technology vendors think buyers (i.e. agencies and in-house departments) want, compared to what they actually want. Following the presentation, a heated panel discussion ensued, which only added to the interest (#nerdalert, I found it very entertaining). It very much reminded me of the value in the Jobs To Be Done framework: how we - as humans - are incredibly unreliable at predicting future behaviours and thus it’s about understanding the job at hand, and how your product can meet that need. In other words, people don’t want quarter inch drills, nor do they want quarter inch holes, they want a picture on their wall. This tweet from April Dunford (brand positioning expert) also plays into that.

     3. Integration needs analysts

Following on from that study, and the discussions throughout the day, it was clear that data analysts will continue to be in demand in the communications industry. If you want to measure one channel, it’s relatively easy, but if you’re running integrated campaigns - and you want to measure business impact - you need a team. 

A team to take the data out of your tech stack, combine it and analyse it. And the ability to conduct valuable research like brand lift studies, or econometric analysis.

As we often say at Clarity, not everything that can be measured matters and not everything that matters, can be measured. Or, the right data beats a lot of data. (Hey we’re marketers, we like a pithy phrase). 

Thus, effective communications campaigns can only truly make business impact if they are performed hand in hand with a team of analysts who can remove the silos from your data collection and see the larger story it is telling. 

     4. It all starts with a framework

The AMEC integrated evaluation framework really is, still, the gold standard of communications measurement, and we saw some fantastic examples of it in action in Vienna. Juggling multiple audiences with one campaign, how to grasp the power of real-time analytics to make snap decisions, while also remaining grounded in the long-term trends and impacts for greater success; to solve these challenges you need to set the course before you start…start with a framework.

     5. We’ve come so far, but there’s still more to come

We all heard stories throughout the pandemic of how communications got a seat at the table, earning its place through campaigns that helped save lives and supported brands in  demonstrating compassion and empathy during a chaotic time. However, our place is not guaranteed, we need to continue to demonstrate value in a clear, impactful and honest way, but - just like Omnicom’s Chris Foster says: “We have a reputation problem of our own, people often don’t understand what we do, and we don’t help ourselves”. We need to continue to advocate for ourselves, and demonstrating measurement and impact must be a cornerstone of that campaign.

     6. How to get the budgets we deserve

Save the best for last, right? Though I enjoyed hearing from some incredible speakers and thought leaders over the course of the week, the real reason I was in Vienna was to give a speech on convincing the CFO. You heard me, the CFO not the CMO. One of the most important factors to communications success is organisational buy-in. And one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is budget. Which is controlled by, you guessed it, the CFO. Often the type of person that is driven by cold, hard facts and numbers (remember how I went on and on about the importance of analysts and a framework previously…here’s a reason why). 

In my talk I outlined the importance of brand building and how to steer stakeholders away from the shiny but short -term metrics of performance marketing, proving the ability to adapt in real time while keeping your eye on the longer term - if I said it once, I’ll say it 100 times… it starts with a framework. 

That’s where communications wins out; by playing the long game, brands are more effective in their marketing campaigns and can actually provide far greater financial returns than performance marketing. But measurement is critical to prove that. 

Want to know more about the value of brand building and get some stats that you can use to make your own case to stakeholders? Check out our recent research report which digs into just that:


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