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April 4, 2008

Scott Knox: Setting the measurement pace

I have been very impressed with the maturity of outlook shown by the UK’s leading live brand experience agencies. In contrast to any other fast-growing discipline’s practitioners they have been quick to come to terms with the need to drive the industry forward through a combination of proving its worth and developing best practice. The agencies’ desire to present the effectiveness of the sector through viable metrics models is something that has taken other disciplines many years to grapple with.

While a lot of this may be down to circumstances and timing, it is to their credit that they have adapted so quickly. Live events and brand experience have always been seen as a difficult area when it comes to assessing value, and they have come to the fore in marketing circles at a challenging time; the power of mass communication is on the wane, agencies across the board are looking for ways to secure a larger chunk of the marketing communications budget and procurement departments are playing a far greater role in setting and policing those budgets. All this points towards the urgent need for a standard, industry-wide measurement tool, and this is something the MCCA and its members are embracing.

Let’s talk about measurement
We recently hosted a dinner in central London to debate this topic. With many agencies having their own methods of evaluation, the evening focused on the authenticity and integrity of an integrated evaluation model and how trust among agencies is vital for it to succeed in the long term. During the debate, it was made clear the MCCA had a key role to play in co-ordinating the merging of the individual metrics models, presently used by our member agencies, to produce a "workable and mutually beneficial" evaluation tool.

It’s important to stress that this is not about proving one discipline is better than any other, it’s about being able to present the commercial value to our clients of all disciplines. And this is something that we as an agency body feel uniquely positioned for – through our diverse marketing agency membership we can offer a truly broad-spectrum approach. On top of this, we will be working with market research companies and media agencies to find out how they evaluate a campaign’s success. Whatever happens, we are determined to keep up the momentum and take the argument to the wider industry.

Intelligent approach
This transitional period will be an interesting and testing time for the marketing industry, and none of us should underestimate the scale of what we are trying to do. What it offers is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of the sector to work for the communal good. Whether that can be done remains to be seen, and it will require senior agency buy-in to discover who can see beyond their own agendas and disciplines for the good of the industry as a whole.

But one thing that is abundantly clear from this process is that the intelligence with which the brand experience sector is approaching this leaves other disciplines in the shade. I can’t help but feel a real sense of pride in the MCCA’s live brand agencies, which are challenging us all with the real problems and possibilities of marketing today.

Scott Knox is managing director of the MCCA, the marketing agencies' assocation.

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