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Measure for measure

My take aways from #measurement16, an annual conference run by Mulley Communications on the thorny issue of measuring online.

A quick post to share some of the wisdom I garnered at this year’s MeasurementConf. This annual conference does exactly what it says on the tin, focusing entirely on measuring the efficacy of online campaigns. This year the majority of presentations were from businesses at the coal face: practitioners of online marketing who are responsible for online or social within their own company. They don’t work for an agency, they aren’t trying to sell a product or a service to the audience, they are simply sharing their experience. Unfortunately, I was unable to stick around for the afternoon but if I manage to synthesise all I heard in the morning I will be doing well. A quick disclosure before I get stuck in: as an organiser of an event during Social Media Week I received a complimentary ticket to MeasurementConf.

The first thing that should be mentioned is that every single speaker at MeasurementConf this year was female. It shouldn’t matter but, my oh my, it really does matter. I have written about this before here and on the DigiWomen site so I won’t go on.

The morning session saw six speakers 3.5 in-house and 2.5 agency. I say point five because although Loretta Ní Ghabháin has her own agency, Lorg Media, she is responsible for social media for TG4 and spoke very much from that perspective.

First up was Dena Walker, Director of Planning at Irish International and all round straight up, tell it as it is talker. She kicked off with the truth that “Organic reach is dead. Social Media are paid channels.” Her comments that micro-targeted, paid campaigns are the way to go were echoed later by Donna Spellaci from DoneDeal.ie who opined that it is better to target an ad to 10 folk who need it now that 10,000 who might never need your product or service. 

Based on their experience with clients Walker shared that they found that bottom up and/ or cause driven strategies are most effective. However any strategy undertaken should be integrated into the overall planning for the business.  This was reiterated by speakers throughout the day and Kate Molony, MD, Maximum Media, shared case studies that underlined Walker’s points that experiential marketing and campaigns that have “the feels” in internet parlance win the internet. Similarly, another speaker, Sergeant Rena Kennedy, from the PR Office of the Irish Defence Forces, underlined the fact that they don’t really do humour. They do plenty of emotion, danger and thrills but not humour. This is, of course, in keeping with their overall “business strategy”: protecting a nation and international peace is a serious business.

Walker and other speakers also underlined what I constantly tell my clients: it’s not about you and your product; it’s about the customer, the audience, the user. While it’s essential to challenge their perceptions, it’s also key to understand those perceptions in order to challenge them.

You will also be happy to hear that Walker advised “fewer pieces of better quality content” and that we should “sweat them”. Spend resources (time, money) on creative and quality videos created for online  or on  long, well considered, well written pieces of copy and “sweat them”. Plan for the long tail and the long term and in the meantime “Enjoy the Silence” As an example of what not to do Walker showed a Goodyear campaign that called on fans and followers (because who else?) to share their favourite blimp story. Srsly.


She wrapped up with a nod to video du jour of Candace Payne, rejoicing in her birthday and wearing her Chewbacca mask. Walker entreated us to make like Payne and “Bring them joy!” If you haven’t a clue who Payne is Google it. (Which  reminds me that Walker also told us that while it’s not so sexy, search marketing is still second only to experiential so keep on, keeping on with the quotidien search engine optimisation and search engine marketing.)

The next three speakers were Sergeant Rena Kennedy from the Irish Defence Forces, Donna Spellaci from DoneDeal.ie and Aoife Clarke from Lidl Ireland. They each presented and then responded to questions from MC Louise McSharry. What a number of people said to me during the subsequent coffee break was how open and authentic the three speakers were about their successes and failures. Their approach was, in a way, summed up by Spellaci “Target, tag, track, then change tack or repeat.” All three are responsible for in-house management of social media and all agreed that you need to know your audience. They also agreed that you must have the appetite for it, especially during busy periods which may not be nine to five. It is essential to have well defined objectives e.g. the Irish Defence Forces wished to recruit more women. This allowed them to target their campaigns to women of a certain age. This is what brought them to Facebook and Instagram and what focussed some of their content on role models, on women in team sports and on women interested in fitness and leadership. Initially they focussed on producing content for YouTube but as it wasn’t getting the traction they expected they switched their focus to Facebook.

While it was difficult to see the theme that brought the next three speakers to a panel together they were nonetheless interesting with unique challenges for their brands. Kate Molloy is MD of Maximum Media, the company responsible for Her.ie, Joe.ie etc. Measurement is key to their business but engagement is the metric that trumps all. An annual quantitative survey ensures that they maintain an understanding of their audience and allows them to help advertisers create targeted campaigns and content.

With extremely sensitive subject matter Marie Duffy from SpunOut.ie faces a unique challenge when trying to reach her audience in the absence of the usual social mechanics of sharing and liking. If a young person is going through a difficult period they will not be sharing and liking the content they find that responds to the problems they are facing. Yet Spunout’s stats are enviable especially their low bounce rate showed that their search and content marketing are second to none. They have also been able to target their content by format:

SpunOut also have a well defined publishing protocol in place which includes sign-off from a young person to ensure language and tone are correct. This will ensure that the language in search queries matched the language on site.

Also on this panel was Lorette Ní Ghabháin of @LorgMedia whose consultancy manages social media for TG4, the Irish Language television station. While many might see the Irish Language as hampering their work, it does of course allow them to focus on and reach their target audience. Their social media campaigns have a particular target of younger audiences. SnapChat, while difficult but not impossible to measure, has been a major focus for them. She shared two tips:

  1. Create unique, original content. They used SnapChat takeovers, behind the scenes and handovers to presenters.
  2. Tell people what you want and put that ask at the start. This applies to any content especially with their younger target market.

The last speaker that I saw on Tuesday was Sarah McDevitt from Radical, a Dublin based agency (who incidentally won the Grand Prix at the Social Media Awards (#sockies16) the following evening). A key takeaway from McDevitt is that you should set clear objectives from the outset. Because “social tends to track everything that moves” it is easy to get bogged down if you are not clear about your measurable objectives. Quote of the day for me came from McDevitt:

Radical were responsible for a seriously heart-wrenching Aer Lingus Christmas campaign that was hugely successful and no doubt very cost effective. When assessing the campaign subsequently McDevitt reported a strange phenomenon:

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the afternoon session but the theme of working in a constrained environment continued with a presentation by Shawna from SexSiopa.ie

Also how Permanent TSB used Periscope to show homes (Real Estate Agents should definitely consider Facebook Live and Snapchat for same.) There was a lot of excitement about how BreakingNews are leveraging the trend they saw in WhatsApp as a referrer. 98FM also reported using WhatsApp to share their content.

I’m looking forward to next year’s conference already!

P.S. If I misquoted or misrepresented you here please let me know and I will amend.



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