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Putting Planning at the Heart of Measurement – for AMEC Measurement Month

There’s something pleasingly ironic about November being AMEC Measurement Month 2019. The 11th month on the calendar takes its name from the ninth month of the year because that’s what it used to be. Back before January and February were invented!

Fortunately, we now have consistency in counting the months. But it’s quite another story when it comes to the far more complicated field of comms measurement and evaluation. Which is why Hotwire is proud to be an enthusiastic supporter of AMEC and its admirable efforts to champion best practice in the shape of developments such as the Integrated Evaluation Framework and the global ‘Common Ground’ initiative. Most recently, we are proud contributors to the latest AMEC eBook, published as part of Measurement Month. In Chapter Four of the book, we explain why we believe so passionately in putting planning at the heart of measurement. Read the Chapter here as well as other great contributions from experts around the world.

As an agency, Hotwire is avidly anti bean counting. What do I mean by this? Well, far too many agencies and clients remain misguidedly obsessed with counting stuff. Whether that be clips, impressions or totally discredited AVEs, they put an undue focus on uninformative vanity metrics.

It’s a hill of beans that rarely helps clients meet their objectives. Even when there are a lot of beans in the hill.

In Hotwire, planning is very much a process that embraces measurement, evaluation and insight. All of which must be conducted systematically to offer genuine focus, purpose and power. Taking such a stance is the only way to transform PR from the poor relation of marketing (and business more widely) into a strategic driver for the organisation.

Let me share a few pointers as to how we go about things.

  • We begin by gaining a clear understanding of the business need. Failure to get to the bottom of organisational objectives leads to woolly thinking and work that, no matter how creative, will be wide of the mark.
  • Once the objectives are clear we move on to strategy development. Defining audience and optimum pathways for reaching it is fundamental here. Data allows us to look at target groups in a meaningful, differentiated way. Some of the technology we utilise helps us understand audiences not just demographically but also psycho-graphically, attitudinally and behaviourally.
  • Insight is a much used and abused term. Many facts and findings held up as insightful lack relevance and obscure more important things. We like to define insights as understanding an audience, including its motivations, problems and frustrations. Especially those frustrations we are in a position to solve.
  • Often we drill beneath the superficial to unearth hidden truths. Understanding the whys and wherefores enables us to plan more effectively, target with precision. As AI continues to develop and learn at great speed, it will improve at harvesting online opinions and reviews that we can analyse to understand motivations behind a purchase or other action. Once hidden truths are revealed, we can feed the resulting insights into the planning process.
  • We are firm believers in establishing some sort of qualitative measure of bravery. Are clients willing to try something a little different or even out-there to distinguish themselves from the crowd? Appreciating a brand’s appetite for risk in a communications context is very useful.
  • Proof points Can the client’s proposed claims be substantiated?
  • More than at any other time in the past we can now easily conduct campaign tracking experiments. We often apply A/B testing to fine tune activity.
  • We are open and honest about what isn’t working as well as we’d hoped. Agencies have the courage not to hide away from aspects of a campaign that fall flat. With dynamic measurement at our disposal, we can make continual improvements

As you can see, what we do is far removed from bean counting. But if that’s nevertheless what you’re after, call Heinz!

About the authors:

Chris Paxton is Chief Strategy Officer at Hotwire. He specialises in insight based strategy and activation and has a long history working globally with technology, FMCG and retail brands, helping them through their corporate, brand and innovation planning.

Andy West is Chief Development Officer at Hotwire and serves on the Board of AMEC. A passionate measurement evangelist, Andy is responsible for the firm’s global sales and marketing as well as working with three of Hotwire’s largest clients.

Kevin Dulaney is VP & Global Head of Technology at Hotwire where he is overseeing the deployment of a deep technology stack to support the firm’s commitment to data centric insights.