Media ad value…or how to measure the immeasurable

Media ad value…
or how to measure the immeasurable

Media ad value, AVE, advertising equivalence, so many words that have been hated by all the press officers and that darken the days at the end of each month when comes the time to prepare monthly reports.

What does it mean exactly? An AVE aims at allocating a monetary value to something that does not have one a priori, such as a newspaper article, a report, an editorial, an interview, a blogpost… everything that is not advertising. And this is where trouble starts: while journalists have been trying for years to clearly distinguish editorial from advertising (both departments do not talk to each other and even claim sometimes not to know each other), here we come blurring boundaries between this two separate worlds which despise one another or at best, totally ignore each other.

So what do we use the media ad value for?

We usually use this indicator to justify our PR actions and the investment made in them (a press trip, an event, press kits…) through a calculation method that could be considered superficial, or at least dubious. It is especially relative, as everyone applies its own method (one that is changing from one agency to another, from one PR officer to another). This method consists in multiplying the value of an advertising page by a coefficient supposed to represent the journalistic, and therefore neutral and impartial, guarantee of an article freely written by a journalist. Described like that, it seems almost logical, but that is where it gets complicated: how much should we multiply by? Everyone has his own theory: by 1.5, 2 or even 3 depending on the agencies, brands, years, and this can even vary depending on the mood of the day J

And we are only talking here about an article from print media. When it comes to the online press, we are close to the burlesque: CPI multiplied by the audience of the website, divided by the number of sections and re-divided by the CPC…a mathematics degree would not be too much!

Beyond even the principle, the method is therefore in itself shaky, since there is no rule. The law of always more! So much so that one can find real gems in some monthly reports: an article on the website of a regional daily newspaper estimated at more than 1 million euros … it’s a deal! At this price, no need to target evening prime time news on TV!

And are the solutions?

Anything that is not measurable is worthless,” is the saying often repeated. And that’s true! But it is better to focus on quality over quantity and overbid.

There are other interpretative frameworks that measure the quality of a feature or report, which will mean more than a monetary value. Thus, defining upstream the key messages of a brand, a company, a destination that should ideally appear in the media clippings will make it possible to evaluate the content and substance of an article.

The quantitative objectives are not to be neglected: setting a minimum number of articles in the women lifestyle press, of reports on the main TV channels at peak hours, or defining the tone of these media clippings, the size of the articles, the mention of the brand in the title or not … so many criteria that will offer a true analysis of the media coverage.

The job of press relations is often misunderstood, sometimes neglected and we spend our time trying to explain how PR is precisely not advertising, so why using an advertising repository to evaluate our work? This is undermining our credibility and we should better promote our own methods of qualitative and quantitative measurement in order to evaluate our work with our own tools, which inevitably contain a certain amount of subjectivity that we cannot escape but which at least has the merit of meaning something.

Raphaëlle Amaudric Account Director

Raphaëlle Amaudric

Account Director

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