A Conservative government will require all public bodies that want to launch marketing campaigns to state precisely what behaviour change the advertising is designed to bring about, and an element of the advertising agency fee will be made contingent on achieving the desired outcome.
Like Robin post author Simon Collister, I can see good and bad in this. I’m inclined to agree with anything which makes government think much harder about its communications spending: the whole reason I started down the open source technology route with Puffbox was because I felt we were spending too much money, and receiving too little in return. I’m all for bad projects being held to account, and good projects to be held aloft as exemplars.
But it’s going to be incredibly difficult to make such a rule make sense. Too many factors involved, too much hard cash at stake.
If marketing operated in a vacuum, with no external factors – and, by the way, no client involvement / interference – then maybe you could compare the situation before with the situation after, and say that any difference was solely down to the quality of the campaign. But of course it doesn’t. And even if it did, you’d be assuming absolute trust in the measurement of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ – which would, in many cases, be government statistics. You can imagine the worries around conflicts of interest, potential and perceived. And where potentially large sums of money are at stake, lawyers gather.
And what would happen if the target were exceeded, perhaps considerably? No reward? All stick, no carrot?
Robin wonders if any such rules would be applied to websites and other social media. I’d draw a distinction between scenarios where you are doing the communicating on behalf of the client, and where you’re enabling the client to communicate themselves. Virtually everything Puffbox does is the latter: more’s the pity, sometimes. So the only metrics my output can be judged on are the deliverables: did we do what we said we’d do, in the agreed time and for a reasonable budget. And on those, I’ve got no worries whatsoever.
Bottom line: I doubt this would change much for me, and others in similar situations. We’re only as good as our last job, as they say; and it would only bring the threat one step closer. Same threat though. And that’s fine.