Many panels at the conferences I go to end up being drab affairs with softball questions, way too much agreement and way too little insight. Which why I was pleasantly surprised by the Measuring Conversational Media panel at the conversational marketing summit yesterday. The panelists were:
- James Lamberti, SVP, Search & Technology, comScore
- Steve Rubel, SVP & Director of Insights, Edelman Digital
- Don Springer, President & CEO, Collective Intellect
Debra Aho Williamson from eMarketer, who was the moderator, didn’t have to ask too many hard questions as the panelists were more than happy to disagree with each other. There were three key issues:
- The difference between measurement and insight
- Approaches to measurement
- The role of standards
“Measurement doesn’t necessarily lead to insight” was a point Steve Rubel made a few times. He was implying that much of the new-fangled data collection and measurement focused on social & conversational media brought little value and insight to brand marketers. That may be true in general but in fast-changing environments it is rather difficult to say a priori what data one must collect and what analysis one must perform to achieve insight. Insight tends to be serendipitous and in my experience I’ve found that serendipity tends to correlate well with data availability. It’s hard to see what you can’t look at.
comScore’s Lamberti was emphatic that measurement doesn’t need to be reinvented. Although conversational media and traditional media are rather different on a number of axes–reach vs. engagement campaigns, large vs. low volume, targeting value vs. targeting advocates, pushed messaging vs. dialog, etc.–the fundamental measurement is the same. Don Springer’s take was that one does, in fact, need fundamental advancements in measurenment in order to track key metrics such as number of conversations, share of voice and sentiment change. I think I fall on the side of Springer here. What’s the equivalent of sentiment change measurement in traditional Web analytics? Tracking star ratings or equivalents is insufficient since they won’t tell you want a blogger is thinking about a product or brand.
Steve Rubel and Don Springer really got into it when they discussed standards. Steve’s take was that w/o standards much of the measurement conversations are meaningless as they are about apples vs. oranges. At one point Don said “standards stifle innovation.” Both positions have truth in them but that’s topic for a longer post. I have to catch a flight back to Boston.
Update: the panel was also covered by PaidContent.