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Results measurement, part three: Advertising Value Equivalency

November 22, 2011

Dave Anderson

In my past couple of blog posts, I’ve described two of the five methods I’ve used to measure the success of a communications program. I started with The Thud Factor, then moved on to Return on Investment, and now I’ll tackle Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE).

I’m not going to spend too much time on AVE, because even though it certainly has its merits, it has fallen out of favor with much of the industry as an ongoing measurement practice because of a perceived lack of credibility.

Advertising Value Equivalency is the evaluation and measurement of media coverage by comparing it to the costs associated with purchasing the equivalent advertising space (or time in the case of broadcast media). Marketers using this method would measure the space – in column inches or time – of each editorial placement and determine what that placement would cost in terms of advertising dollars. Some practitioners would then add in a multiplier to the amount, with the parochial assumption that a “free” PR placement has more credibility and therefore more value than a “paid” advertisement. While I personally believe there is some validity to that point, it’s unfair to dismiss or diminish the value of advertising, as it has proven to create awareness in many ways that a public relations campaign cannot.

Overall, I have tried to stay away from the use of Advertising Value Equivalency for analyzing the results of a PR campaign. Measuring the value of public relations can already be a very subjective process depending on your level of experience and belief in the craft. Adding fuzzy math and widely-disputed multipliers to the mix is not a recipe for objective results measurement.

After the holiday, I’ll explore a very intriguing method for measurement: The Point System.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you get to enjoy some much deserved time with family and friends!

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