For those of you that don’t know, AVE stands for Advertising Value Equivalent. Something that sends shivers down the spine of any PR who was an account executive in the days before the internet.
Rulers and scalpels at the ready for measuring column inches of all coverage, multiplying that by the cost for ad space in said publication and then multiplying that again by a number, of anything between 2 and 7, to show how much more important influential PR was than advertising.
I really thought that AVE was pretty much a Dodo these days, so was amazed to find it was the most common form of measuring of the value of PR, especially consumer campaigns, while presiding as a judge for the 2009 PRCA Awards over the last few weeks.
Shouldn’t the industry have moved on by now?
AVE is so outdated for a number of reasons:
1. It only works for print media – column inches do not work on the Web
2. Advertising space is becoming cheaper, so PRs using it are already devaluing their work
3. But most importantly, it totally ignores business impact. All it does it give the board a nice big figure of how much it would cost to buy the equivalent amount of space.
We all know that PR is notoriously difficult to measure, and it is clear that there will never be one killer method of measurement. But what we should be striving for is a blend of measures that are aligned to specific business and campaign objectives. Things that actually mean something to our clients, like sales, market share, web hits, trials, and referrals.
I’m not saying it’s easy. But falling back on AVE is no way to win over clients, let alone win awards!