Ad Value Equivalency, the outlawed but still in-demand communications measurement technique, is even more popular in Europe than in America. “Customers demand them,” is the standard reason given by vendors who continue to provide them. To which my standard answer is: “If customers demanded hookers, bribes, and heroin would you provide that as well?”
In truth, I get it: You are a vendor with a contract to deliver monitoring and measurement for a major consumer brand that probably represents 10-20% of your revenue. While you eschew AVEs on principle, and don’t deliver them to your local clients, you can’t very well walk away from the revenue that the large brand represents. So you send in the AVEs and don’t make waves.
And, realistically, it is not appropriate that a small in-country agency or monitoring company challenge an international corporate policy. That is the role of industry leaders and provocateurs like me.
Which is why I’m now talking to you, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and every other oil, car, or consumer goods company: I hereby challenge you to take a hard look at the consequences of your demand for AVEs:
- You ask your local agency to be irresponsible by providing what they (and the rest of the industry) know to be invalid measurement. As the Barcelona Principles state, Ad Value Equivalency is not a measure of the value of PR.
- You provide false and misleading data to your executives, who use it to make decisions that are misinformed and probably wrong. Today, media outlets have unlimited amount of inches at their disposal, so why should they even care about how many inches of coverage are generated?
- You squander the opportunity to improve your PR. The Barcelona Principles assert that the true value of media in the digital age is in generating business results in the form of sales, engagement, loyalty, and advocacy for your products. So why do you waste the time and energy of your executives and vendors all over the world measuring irrelevant data?
- You restrain the PR industry from the progress and professionalism it will achieve when it bases its research on valid, standardized metrics.
For all these reasons, this month’s Measurement Menace Award goes to all the multinational corporations that perpetuate the use of AVEs. I’ve called on all local agencies to turn over the names of the brands that are demanding this and in the coming months we will be publishing them in these pages. ∞