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Do not keep ad value in an artificial coma

I came across an interesting article by Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

His contribution ‘Fighting flawed metrics in public relations’ addresses ad value in terms of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), a method kept alive by the suppliers of the monitoring tools. Because it is their bread and butter, they tell their own as well as our clients that ad value really is the only correct way to measure the impact of PR.

We PR-consultants know better than that. As Waddington rightly puts forward, ad value says nothing about the impact of the message, about the sentiment, or about the question whether campaign and business targets have been achieved.

Barcelona Principles

For this reason, we, PR consultants of the world, are tentatively uniting behind the Barcelona Principles, a method that does allow for measuring the impact of PR. We say tentatively because, unfortunately, for many colleagues, the one paying the piper still calls the tunes. So, if the clients wants AVEs, the client usually gets AVEs - sometimes even accompanied by a notice that the ad value provided should in fact be multiplied by 5, given that editorial content is worth more than purchased content. Need we say more?

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Integrated Evaluation Framework

In 2016 the Association of Media and Evaluation Companies (AMEC) gathered a number of academics, PR professionals and ‘value assessors’ to provide a set-up for putting the Barcelona principles in practice. The result was the Integrated Evaluation Framework. 

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It has become more than just a one-dimensional diagram, so early compliments to the creators. All aspects of your campaign can be filled in on the relevant website, broken down into

  •          Objectives
  •          Inputs
  •          Activities
  •          Outputs
  •          Outtakes
  •          Outcomes
  •          Impact

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What the concrete results are of this Integrated Evaluation Framework? I must admit I have no idea. I will be filling it in with my colleagues at Wisse Kommunikatie, and we will review the result critically.

Whatever the outcome: I am very pleased that there are people who realize that taking ad value as justification for PR activities is not useful. What is more, to measure and report according to the Advertising Value Equivalent would be to completely ignore the enormous added value of an entire industry.

So let us put this method out of its misery, at least in our industry, and pull the plug on the iron lung that keeps AVE in an artificial coma. While an AVE report may bring in a few euros in project management on the short term, the AVE methodology completely undermines your right to exist on the longer term.

Serge Beckers
Managing partner Wisse Kommunikatie

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