A Last Goodbye to AVE

Notepad and green plant on wooden background with Time To Evaluate

It is time to finally say goodbye to AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalents)! After several years of warnings that AVE is not and cannot be used to measure the effectiveness of public relations, the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has officially called for a the eradication of AVEs as a communications measurement tool and their initiative was supported by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

Seven years ago in Barcelona, ​​a group of more than 30 worldwide PR professionals agreed that AVE cannot be considered as the value of public relations. The rejection of AVEs was therefore included in the Barcelona Principles and this principle caused quite a stir among the wider public. The principles were updated in 2015, but the message remains the same – AVEs is a thing of the past. CIPR has given all its members a year to completely stop using AVEs with a threat of sanctions for non-compliance, as the campaign against AVE takes a leap into the legislative sphere.

The number of experts using AVEs continues to decline – PR Daily reports that the latest surveys show that approximately 35% of PR professionals still use this metric, while AMEC claims that the percentage is closer to 18%. No matter which one is correct, if the number is higher than zero, it is anyways too high.

Recently, as part of a global drive to eradicate the use of AVEs, AMEC required that their members sign an undertaking that they will not provide any AVEs by default to any client. Any client that requests an AVE as a metric should be educated on why these metrics are invalid and be offered alternative metrics instead.

CIPR has even taken a tougher stance, announcing that it will publish new standards for its members. Current members will have a year to transition from using AVE as a metric, and those who do not make the transition within the given deadline will face sanctions.

AVE is really a thing of the past and we should finally start acting as if it is. AVE originated at a time when newspaper ad placements were at their peak and publishers charged the advertisers for taking that fought-for space in their newspapers. However, today advertisers pay for clicks, likes, leads or conversions, leaving newspaper ad space crying alone in the shadows of its past.

AVE advocates will say: “Who cares about reaching a targeted audience with a key message or generating interactions? If you have editorial in the papers, you have it covered.” Such an attitude will not lead you anywhere, least of all into the future.

Successful and capable PR professionals have moved to measuring changes in attitudes such as increased affinity and preferences, or changes in behaviour measured by conversions, internet traffic and leads. They are the ones who will hold onto their jobs in the future.

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