Rethinking measurement and evaluation of communication: Moving away from AVEs

In the world of communication, measurement and evaluation play a crucial role in determining the success of campaigns and strategies. For many years, Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) have been the go-to metric for measuring the value of earned media coverage. However, there is a growing consensus among communication professionals and global trade associations that AVEs are flawed and should be replaced with more meaningful and reliable metrics.

AVEs have long been criticized for their lack of transparency, replicability, and relevance to the goals of communication campaigns. The methodology behind AVEs remains opaque, making it difficult to trust the results obtained. Moreover, the one-size-fits-all approach of AVEs fails to account for the diverse communication objectives and strategies adopted by different organizations and markets.

In Asia Pacific, including Vietnam, the transition away from AVEs has been met with some challenges. Legacy and the desire for a simple, monetary-based metric to justify PR budgets are among the main obstacles. Many organizations still lack measurable objectives and default to off-the-shelf metrics instead of developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with their specific goals.

Fortunately, media intelligence (MI) providers are taking the lead in educating in-house teams and agency clients about best practices in measurement and evaluation. They are advocating for the adoption of more diversified and sophisticated approaches that go beyond AVEs. The Barcelona Principles and AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework are invaluable resources in this regard, providing flexible guidelines that address the challenges faced by MI providers across the Asia Pacific region.

The outlook for media intelligence in the region is promising, with several emerging opportunities on the horizon. One such opportunity lies in focusing on measuring the business impacts of communication efforts and involving clients in an objective setting. Educating clients about the role of MI technologies, such as AI and basic automation, is another area of growth. Additionally, innovating around measurements that capture the actions and reactions of audiences within different applications and platforms will provide more insightful and actionable data.

While AI and automation undoubtedly have a place in the future of measurement and evaluation, human involvement remains vital in the field of PR and communication. The core of PR lies in human connections and relationships, and no amount of technological advancement can replace the understanding and empathy that human professionals bring to the table.

To further emphasize the need to move away from AVEs, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, or AMEC, has proposed 22 reasons why this outdated metric should be abandoned:

  1. The worldwide PR industry denounces AVEs as flawed, unethical, and not supported by research literature.
  2. Global communication trade associations unanimously agree that AVEs are not a valid metric.
  3. AVEs measure nothing but the vanity of those reporting them.
  4. The Barcelona Principles explicitly state that AVEs are not the value of communication.
  5. Advertising and PR are distinct disciplines and should be measured accordingly.
  6. Advertising is not available in all media outlets, making AVEs impractical.
  7. AVEs confuse cost with value, undermining their credibility.
  8. AVEs fail to consider important advertising criteria such as premium placements and color differentiations.
  9. AVEs are often calculated based on published rate card prices, inflating the figures.
  10. Determining the appropriate content to include for measuring AVEs is subjective and arbitrary.
  11. AVEs disregard the quality of coverage, treating all content equally.
  12. Earned media coverage can be negative, unlike advertising, which AVEs fail to account for.
  13. AVEs do not consider target audiences, favoring mass media outlets with higher advertising rates.
  14. Measuring AVEs encourages ineffective PR strategies, such as carpet-bombing press releases.
  15. AVEs are a vanity metric, providing no meaningful insights into the effectiveness of campaigns.
  16. Advertising is not measured in PR value equivalents, highlighting the inconsistency in using AVEs.
  17. Multipliers and PR values applied to AVEs lack credible research support and vary among organizations.
  18. AVEs lack a standardized methodology, making them unreliable and non-transferable between providers.
  19. Good measurement and evaluation should inform the planning process, which AVEs fail to achieve.
  20. AVEs are incompatible with digital and social media, where advertising works
  21. AVEs focus solely on outputs, disregarding outtakes, outcomes, and business impact.
  22. AVEs do not reflect pre-defined communication objectives and are limited to media relations.

So, what’s the conclusion? The communication industry must embrace a paradigm shift in measurement and evaluation practices, moving away from AVEs and adopting more meaningful metrics. In the Asian markets, media intelligence providers are at the forefront of this change, advocating for best practices and educating clients about the alternatives. By rethinking measurement and evaluation, organizations can gain deeper insights into the effectiveness of their communication efforts and make more informed strategic decisions. We may want to say no to AVEs and pave the way for more accurate, reliable, and insightful metrics in the field of communication.

(X-posting on EloQ’s blog)

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