AMEC – the international Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication – today launched a worldwide initiative to finally eradicate the use of Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) as a method of measuring communication and PR.
For the past decade or more, practitioners and PR professionals have decried AVE as quite possibly the worst metric to use. It was even included in the 2010 Barcelona Principles as item no. 5: “AVE is not the value of PR”.
If you have not heard about Advertising Value Equivalency before, let me try to briefly explain: AVE is a method for calculating the monetary value of a piece of news coverage – like an article. You take the number of column inches in your PR piece and multiply it with the column inch price of an ad of a similar size. And that is – in theory – your “Advertising Value Equivalency” for the coverage you created through PR.
The definitive guide: Why AVEs are invalid
If you think that sounds like a swell idea to put a monetary figure on your PR work, be warned! Advertising Value Equivalency is detested for good reasons. If you are a professional you should never, repeat never, use it.
If you need all the good arguments why, AMEC has made it easy for you by compiling the ultimate list of 22 reasons why Advertising Value Equivalency is invalid (and manipulative). You can find the entire list in this post.
A long struggle
Building on momentum from the AMEC Summit in Bangkok in May 2017, AMEC has now joined forces with organisations such as ICCO, PRCA, CIPR and others to stop the use of Advertising Value Equivalency completely.
This is a major step. In the past, whenever the debate about AVE has raged, the measurement industry and the PR industry has repeatedly passed the buck to the opposite side. The measurement industry has insisted that a ban on selling AVE measurement as a service would be unenforceable. Thus, some would continue to sell it and those that took a stand against it – for the greater good – would lose market shares. That is why the measurement industry has insisted that if only the PR industry would stop the demand for Advertising Value Equivalency then the measurement industry would gladly follow suit and stop providing it.
Naturally, the PR industry has turned that argument on its head by saying that if the measurement industry wants the PR industry to stop using AVE, it should take responsibility for simply providing a better alternative. But the measurement industry has so far failed to do so. And the primary reason is that Advertising Value Equivalency is fundamentally flawed and its objective – to put a price tag on PR coverage – should never have been introduced because there is no ‘good way’ of doing it – and thus no 1:1 replacement available.
And so it went, around and around with nobody willing to take the first step.
Goodbye AVE – you will not be missed
That all changed, apparently, in Bangkok this year. And much credit should go to AMEC CEO Barry Leggetter and AMEC Chairman Richard Bagnall for this initiative.
They have managed to get the majority of the measurement industry, the AMEC members, to take a pledge to stop providing Advertising Value Equivalency as a service. And at the same time partners like ICCO, PRCA and CIPR among others, who organise the majority of the world’s PR agencies, have dedicated themselves to work hard to get their members to take a similar pledge not to use AVE as a means of reporting success to their clients.
So for the first time, the measurement industry and the PR industry are approaching each other to find common ground and together achieve the objective of finally eradicating the use of Advertising Value Equivalency.
There is still a ways to go, but this is the best shot the industry has had for a long, long time. Let’s make sure it succeeds.