End of the line for AVEs?

PRWeek Award A month or so ago I had lunch with Danny Rogers, then the editor of PRWeek, now the editor-in-chief of all Haymarket’s marketing and brand titles. One of our many topics of discussion was the Barcelona declaration and I asked him if PRWeek was going to follow the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ lead and ban advertising value equivalents (AVEs) as an evaluation metric in its annual awards.

The great news is that it has finally banned AVEs from the PRWeek awards. We touched on this at yesterday’s CIPR Social Media Council meeting and Philip Sheldrake suggested that we should shame and humiliate those that still cling to this entirely bogus metric. I’m all for that and for years have been on attacking those daft or weak enough to use AVEs.

About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • Greg Felgate

    Hi Stuart,

    I partly agree with you regarding AVE. However, some clients and potential clients do value it as a measure of success. While I am trying to educate them on other techniques, I think that a degree of empathy is needed and aggressive tactics, such as the ones you have suggested, don’t go down well client-side. We have brought in other measurements to run alongside AVE, with the eventual aim of fading AVE out. I don’t think naming and shaming is a good idea – I’m not up for bashing fellow agencies – its just not cool.

  • http://www.stuartbruce.biz Stuart Bruce

    Hi Greg, not sure I agree. In 20+ years in the profession I’ve never had much of a problem convincing clients that AVEs are a totally pointless metric. Even the name doesn’t make sense as they have nothing to do with the VALUE, but are simply about the COST. And because AVEs are so pointless you’ve still got the added overhead of having to do some real evaluation as well, otherwise you’ll end up blundering around not doing what you’re doing. All most clients want is what works, so if you provide something better then you’ll usually find they are happy. I’m not sure what you mean about ‘bashing fellow agencies’, it’s about championing professionalism and best practice in order to stamp out dubious practice that gives everyone in the industry a bad name. That’s supporting fellow consultancies, not knocking them!

  • Greg Felgate

    Thanks Stuart,

    We have other more valuable measurement metrics, which we use and are confident in, but then we quite often have clients coming back and asking for the AVE of a campaign – I think this is because their seniors don’t value the other metrics… which means I need to get in there and convince them that AVE is pointless. This is something I am going to work on.

    I agree that the PR industry needs to work harder to stamp AVE out, I just don’t like the idea of humiliating agencies by naming and shaming those that are currently using it – its difficult to know what the reasons are for them still using it, without asking them first. As you said in a previous post, “you’ve frequently got to wear your principles lightly in order to sell them what they think they want.” (I know you were referring to do something else, but I think this still applies here). I guess once you have a foot in the door, you need to take the client on that evaluation education process, but it might not be an immediate transition, which is why I worry about the naming and shaming.

    All the best
    Greg

  • http://www.stuartbruce.biz Stuart Bruce

    Greg, I think we’re actually agreeing. That’s why in the older post I talk about being at the bottom of the food chain. The important thing is to NEVER provide AVEs without a HUGE health warning. I’ve found that if every AVE report contains within it criticism to say why it’s rubbish and also includes something better then clients do stop asking. Another tactic to wean clients off AVEs is to charge extra for them. You include real evaluation as part of the fee, but charge extra for AVEs. If you couple this with the first tactic it doesn’t take long before they start questioning the value. Since Barcelona you’ve got the additional defence of the fact that every industry body officially condemns them. The naming and shaming is only for those that abuse them e.g. boasting about them in case studies etc.

  • http://twitter.com/paulruk paul rayment

    Can I throw out the question asking that if AVE is the worst then what is the best measurement metric? I find that as attention moves away from offline to online it’s harder to put a financial value on coverage.

  • http://twitter.com/paulruk paul rayment

    Can I throw out the question asking that if AVE is the worst then what is the best measurement metric? I find that as attention moves away from offline to online it’s harder to put a financial value on coverage.

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