At MRP we are asked often if we have Ad Value Equivalency or AVE data. Ad Value Equivalency is the measure of an earned story in advertising dollars. Comparing earned media pick-up to advertising is not measuring apples to apples, and is not an accepted practice of PR professionals.
The worldwide PR industry denounces AVEs as flawed, including the PRSA (PR Society of America, Global Alliance, CPRS (Canadian PR Society) and AMEC (Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) to name a few. All agree AVEs are not a valid metric because advertising and PR are two very different things and should be treated as such. Editorial content is based on third-party reporting with journalistic standards in mind and usually adds credibility to the story/messaging. That’s not to say that editorial may sometimes be biased or state an opinion, but generally, it is not based on a brand or organization trying to sell their products or services. Advertising in its very nature is a promotion, and must interrupt and try to grab our attention. Readers often give more credence to editorial content over advertising, and hence, if editorial paints a brand or organization in a positive light, the messaging can be more valuable to that brand than an ad would be. AVEs assume that PR equals Advertising, but don’t take into account that ads are always positive in tone and may not always be believable, while earned media’s tone will vary, but is usually regarded as more credible.
Measuring your campaigns with AVEs doesn’t quantify if you’ve delivered on your PR objectives. Effective PR campaigns will support an organization’s objectives and will be planned against pre-defined communication benchmarks, such as key messages, tone, brand mentions, image inclusion, etc. AVEs do not take into account the success of delivery against objectives.
Good measurement and evaluation should inform the planning process. AVEs provide no meaningful information that can be used to refine a communications plan. Best practice evaluation should always give insights and intelligence that can inform strategy.
If you have questions or need help with your PR measurement, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.