THURSDAY 4 FEB 2016 3:54 PM


A Meltwater white paper has sparked controversy in the PR industry as it recommends that practitioners use AVEs to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Barry Leggetter, CEO at Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), the global trade body for the measurement of communications, has spoken out against the move in his blog saying, “The Meltwater white paper is as surprising as it is unwelcome. It makes me wonder ‘Meltwater – where have you been?’”

The white paper was written by Robert Wynne, PR commentator and Forbes contributor. Wynne admitted that he does not subscribe to the Barcelona Principles laid out by AMEC, and instead recommends an AVE-based formula for measuring the value of public relations. This formula has long been discredited by supporters of the Barcelona Principles.

Wynne advocates a simple measurement for a single media placement: PR dollar value = advertising value equivalency (AVE) x 5. He says that this formula was based, in part, on a six-year study of 72,000 readers of the Los Angeles Times. The six-year study determined that editorial content was much more valuable than advertisements in terms of awareness, recall and attitudinal impact.

Wynne argues that you cannot separate the experience of ads and editorial, and says that, since marketing budget is divided between PR and advertising – among other things – it is not realistic to avoid comparisons. However, he does concede that the Principles are a useful resource put together by devoted and experienced, senior PR practitioners.

However, supporters of the Barcelona Principles, first implemented in 2010 and now in version 2.0, strongly disagree, stating that AVEs are a thing of the past. AMEC’s goal is to unite communications professionals under one, industry-wide form of measurement that is dependent on outcomes. It is hoped that unanimous acceptance of this measurement framework will ensure that clients stop insisting on AVEs, an allegedly ineffective form of measurement.

Andy West, group chief development officer at Hotwire, says in his blog, “The longer we push outdated views around AVEs, the longer we’ll be having conversations with clients about this discredited and ultimately ineffective method of measurement.”

Francis Ingham, director general at PRCA, one of the public relations associations that supports AMEC’s Barcelona Principles, and chief executive at ICCO, says, “We are astonished that any credible measurement and evaluation professional would make the case for AVEs. AVEs measure absolutely nothing other than the vanity of those reporting them. I had hoped that the evaluation community had condemned them to the rubbish bin of history years ago.”

Heidi Myers, director of marketing and communications EMEA at Meltwater, who published the white paper, ‘Estimating the Real Value of Public Relations’, says, “One thing that has been a focus for our product development at Meltwater is that we don't constrain our customers to any one measurement or insight. We let them configure their own based on their individual reporting needs. The beauty of the communications industry is that we provide channels for various messages to be shared. Whilst AVE isn't a metric for everybody, it is for some and so has a rightful place in discussion.”



MON 16 May 2016 10:59 AM
Reporting on brand
FRI 13 May 2016 2:00 PM
Jeep on running
WED 11 May 2016 1:28 PM
Crises are lost in translation
WED 11 May 2016 9:17 AM
Lack of strategy in IC