One of the most polarizing topics in PR generally and among the measurati in particular is advertising value equivalency, commonly known as AVEs. And yet, notwithstanding the controversy and despite efforts promoting professional standards to the contrary, AVEs remain among the most common form of measurement in PR. Why are they so popular with the masses? And why do so many PR experts hate them? Essentially, advertising equivalency is an easy, accessible way to attribute a dollar value to media coverage by calculating print column inches and TV/radio time factored by the cost of that space and time on an “if-purchased basis.” But does it represent value? And if so, is it the best way to demonstrate PR’s unique contribution to the enterprise? Let’s explore the history of AVEs, detail reasons against their use and shed light on the current state of AVE measurement to provide a balanced view along with a moderate’s advice on a better way forward.
No matter how great the current state of analytics is, the experience of putting together a visual campaign on social media may bring back nostalgia for the days when data was harder to come by. There’s just too much to measure. With the various types of media available—video, still images, infographics, etc.—the task of developing a fitting measurement framework at the beginning of a campaign can be uniquely tricky.
PR News’ Measurement Hall of Fame members have a thing about data or, rather, a thing about the casual disregard of data in the PR discipline. Few things aggravate them more than a PR professional who worries openly about proving the value of communications efforts yet shies away from taking the first steps toward using data to inform their work and show the effect of their work on an organization’s goals.
In 2002, social networking came into play with the launch of Friendster, followed by LinkedIn in 2003. In 2006, Facebook opened up to the general public and Twitter launched. With each new social media milestone, the movement to cultivate relationships with influencers has grown. As we know, modern-day social influencers are prominent people, often bloggers, who have the reputation and power to sway others with their opinions. They represent opportunities to shape perceptions about your corporate and brand reputation, in addition to your products and solutions. The long-term goal is to convert them into brand advocates.
For communicators looking to implement visual campaigns across the social spectrum, there’s no shortage of things to consider when building a measurement framework. Large multinational corporations like Oracle, for example, need to take into account which platforms have greater impact in various countries around the globe. Though many organizations don’t have to deal with this kind of complexity, there’s always the issue of making sure everyone is speaking the same measurement language.
Most American adults know exercise and diet are critical to a healthy, fulfilling life. Still, only about half of us get the amount of exercise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. It’s similar when it comes to PR measurement. PR pros know it’s important to measure, but measurement itself often is done minimally or skipped altogether.
Despite years of being asked for more concrete performance metrics, of complaining that “they just don’t understand” what we do, and of being given opportunities at every turn to make a change, we somehow believe that public relations is absolved from having to play by the same rules.
You just presented your latest PR measurement dashboard to the C-suite. The result: a boardroom full of blank faces and no questions. This is not a good sign. It’s very possible that the problem is not the effectiveness and usefulness of your team’s communications efforts. The problem may be the dashboard itself.
It’s a toss-up. Who was suffering more from delusional thinking last month: UK Prime Minister David Cameron or UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi? You’ll have to judge for yourself.
Google’s free tool has the power to transform a brand’s understanding of its online presence, which can only lead to a better experience for users. Putting this analytics tool to work within a larger measurement framework has the potential to unleash a kind of transparency to PR work that was at one time unimaginable. This allows communicators to make well-informed decisions backed by data, which can then be used to concretely prove their team’s business contributions to the C-suite.