Advertising Value Equivalencies (AVEs) have been used across the communications industry for decades. Simply put, an AVE is the cost of buying space taken up by a piece of coverage in print/online/broadcast, had it been garnered through an advertisement. It is one of the many ways to explain the value of PR to anyone unfamiliar with media and interested in justifying PR budget by measuring its return on investment (ROI).
Here are five reasons why we need to look beyond AVEs as a PR measurement tool in this evolving industry.
1. No Consideration for Message Quality
It doesn’t suffice to have a certain centimeters-squared (cm2) worth of coverage that doesn’t contain the right message. Nor does it help to dominate a publication that your target audience doesn’t follow. AVEs don’t account for the tone of coverage or who has seen the coverage, limiting the measurement to a crude metric of column centimeters.
2. Debatable Use of Multipliers
AVE multipliers are in the eye of the beholder and can range drastically – from three to 10! This inflates figures tremendously and focuses more on making internal parties happy over a figure without providing much substance. Also, due to the absence of an industry standard, the multiplier varies across practices, leading to confusion over a standard score.
3. What About Influencers and Social Media?
Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, etc.) are overflowing with new users that interact with and follow brand profiles. For each brand there are countless influencers and brand advocates sharing status updates, tweets, videos and pictures related to the brand; how can an AVE successfully measure the impact that these influencers have on their followers? AVEs don’t take into account the dominance of social media, presenting a weakness in the measurement of impressions.
4. Forced Equivalency With Advertising
AVEs and the age of advertising-led dominance are now far in the past and studies have proven that an advertisement and an editorial have very different levels of credibility. It is therefore pointless to draw false equivalence between advertising and PR.
5. Myopic Vision
AVEs fail to look at the larger strategic circle. What about stakeholder relations? What about limiting negative publicity which should, in AVE language, come to negative figures? Additionally, AVEs turn a deaf ear to the other significant purposes PR can serve, like increased trust, deeper communities and behavioural change.
The time is right to look for an alternative measurement for PR, which would be a more accurate representation of the industry we operate in.
What other metrics have you used in measuring PR activities for your clients?
Image credit: Chuck Coker