AMEC Barcelona Principles 3.0 Unveiled – Playing Catch Up, Keeping Pace and Striving to be Bolder

Performative measurement? Superficial metrics? Social as a new channel? Welcome to the dark ages of communications measurement, circa 2010. Measurement has thankfully edged forward over the last decade, and today’s comms practitioners crave integrated, innovative and audience-centric measurement that drives real business results. Without it, practitioners fall further behind their marketing peers, failing to optimize programs and prove the value of comms to the C-suite. 

But are industry standards keeping pace? Are we still stuck in the dark ages? Do we still need to educate on Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE)?

It’s been five years since the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) refreshed its Barcelona Principles and 10 years since the original launch. The Barcelona Principles provide a foundational basis for comms measurement and evaluation, setting an overarching framework and alignment for industry associations, think tanks, commissions and practitioners from 33 countries.

This week, AMEC unveiled the long-awaited Barcelona Principles 3.0 on the virtual stage of its annual global summit. Drumroll…. please.

Here’s our breakdown of where the industry has caught up, what feels on pace, and where we can be bolder.

Caught Up

  • Taking a holistic approach to measurement. A long overdue evolution of the original “social media can and should be measured principle,” it’s hardly news that the industry has moved toward a holistic measurement approach. At W2O, we believe counseling clients on a fully integrated cross-PESO approach is more important than ever as CCOs are increasingly integrating with CMOs and CTOs to deliver holistic measurement to the CEO. We are constantly exploring new ways for comms measurement to look, feel and behave more like marketing. Comms falling five years behind marketing peers? It’s no longer an option.
  • Goal setting is a must and should be flexible. We wholeheartedly agree with this long overdue update that goals should be dynamic and revisited on a consistent basis. We build in regular reviews of client goals to ensure measurement plans are living, breathing documents to capitalize on optimization opportunities.

On Pace

  • People and society matter. The refreshed principle acknowledges the importance of identifying outcomes and impact for stakeholders and society, in addition to the organization. At W2O, we are examining new ways to measure social good and important stakeholder groups such as employees who are increasingly having an impact on long-term company performance.
  • Rooting our work in integrity. Data privacy remains one of our top concerns as we work with sensitive healthcare data and new AI technologies to ensure we are protecting the end user and delivering unbiased results.

Be Bolder

  • Potential impact was left undefined. The updated principle speaks to measuring outputs, outcomes and potential impact, but detail around potential impact is missing. Potential impact, or rather predictive, is where we need to be innovating as an industry. We see predictive as the NOW – not just the future – as we experiment with coupling new technologies with seasoned data scientists to lead comms to predictive modelling.
  • Audience-centric measurement as a stand-alone principle. Audience is more important than ever, and our measurement framework takes an audience-centric approach to understand if the right message was delivered on the right channel to the right audience. New quantitative audience data, combined with qualitative methods, is enabling the industry to push further in this direction.
  • Re-evaluating metrics beyond AVE. As an industry, it’s time to broaden the “do not advise” metric list. Impressions or unique visitors per month are antiquated metrics. Automated sentiment is far from perfect. At W2O, we regularly re-evaluate the metrics we are using to counsel clients and explore new tools, data and methods.

We have edged forward as an industry, but it’s time to be bolder and to critically examine industry guidelines on a more frequent basis, bringing on new talent with diverse perspectives, and experimenting with new methods and technologies to bring comms measurement into 2020 and beyond.

For more thought leadership on measurement, please check out AMEC and Institute for Public Relations (IPT).