Onclusive is the Measurement Menace of the Month

Every time I think we’re making progress on getting rid of the dreaded Ad Value Equivalency, more of them pop up. This time they’re from media analysis firm Onclusive, which is attempting to show the “value” of media coverage around Eric Swalwell’s anti-abortion ad.

Here’s what Onclusive told Forbes about the ad:

“As a social post, the ad went viral, being shared more than 40,000 times on Twitter and 1,400 times on Facebook. It sparked widespread media coverage that reached more than three million people, an advertising value equivalent of more than $23.1 million, according to media monitoring company Onclusive.”

AVE is, of course, a terrible metric, one with many more accurate alternatives. Moreover, political ads should be measured in terms of likely voters reached and votes gained.

What makes this particular instance worse is the inflation of the value. Let’s take a look at the alleged three million people who “saw” it. There are 27 million eligible voters in California, and about half of them might possibly vote Democratic. So let’s assume that the target audience is around 13 million. Since the story was “widely shared” and thus likely seen by lots of people outside of California, some percentage of those 3 million people who saw it don’t count. Especially those who saw it on Fox News or other right-wing outlets that used it as proof of how horrible Eric Swalwell is. So if you look at the cost per voter reached, it’s not such a great deal.

What is particularly reprehensible about Onclusive providing AVEs is that they are a sponsor of the AMEC Summit. AMEC is the organization that put a stake in the heart of AVEs some ten years ago with the Barcelona Principles. And despite two updates to the Principles, Number 5 still says (from the AMEC website):

  1. AVEs are not the value of communication.

The message remains consistent and clear; “we continue to believe that AVEs do not demonstrate the value of our work.” It is important that communications measurement and evaluation employs a richer, more nuanced, and multi-faceted approach to understand the impact of communications.

Seems to me that, as a sponsor, you’re endorsing the organization and therefore should at least sign on to and adhere to the principles of the organization, no? Congratulations to Onclusive, our Measurement Menace of the Month. ∞

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Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.

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