PR vs. Ad: Who Wins the Analytics Game?

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The public relations and advertising industries have found themselves in a similar adapt-to-digital-or-die predicament.

The folks at Forrester’s Interactive Marketing blog seem to think that the issue is unique to public relations agencies. We wanted to take a look at the data and see who gets the core elements of digital, starting with the basis for digital success: analytics. We talked with over 300 agency executives about analytics for business development.

Do analytics matter in digital?

Short answer? Yes! The data shows agencies that track inbound leads close business in a shorter period of time.

Before you read on. . . any guesses? Which industry do you think relies more on analytics?

Who wins the analytics game?

The first question we asked was whether agencies typically review analytics before making decisions about digital marketing. The data shows that public relations agencies are more likely than ad agencies to consider the implications of analytics before making digital marketing decisions.

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Next, we looked at how advertising and public relations agencies use analytics when competing with other agencies. It turns out that public relations practitioners are more likely to use analytics to check for competitor activity on their website.

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Finally, we looked at plans for 2012. The data shows that 50% of public relations agencies plan to be more involved in analytics for business development this year, while only 35% of advertising agencies said the same.

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What does it all mean?

Does this data prove that public relations agencies are better at digital than advertising agencies? We can’t really say. But we do know that analytics lie at the foundation of any successful digital marketing campaign, be it for clients or for the agency itself.

If anything, we’d say that both public relations and advertising agencies could afford to ramp up analytics efforts. Knowing what your customers and competition are doing online, and the results (or lack thereof) can be a deciding factor in a campaign’s effectiveness.

But who wins the battle of analytics for business development? This time, the trophy goes to public relations.

Are you looking to get your agency ahead in 2012? Check out our white paper on agency growth and see how your agency compares.