As a useful measurement of the effectiveness of a communications campaign, AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) has few defenders. A large majority of communications and PR professionals view it, at best, as flawed and, at worst, as useless. Yet many communications professionals still use it. Why? Is it down to force of habit? Simplicity? Cost? The fact that it’s almost guaranteed to ‘prove’ that a campaign delivered outstandingly good value?
Without it, what does meaningful measurement and evaluation look like in a modern B2B communications campaign?
No matter how modest the first steps, agencies need to better understand and stress to their clients the importance that comprehensive measurement and evaluation plays in continued business success. Rather than a simple measurement of column inches and arbitrary multiplication, meaningful measurement takes account of a large number of important criteria and it all begins with goal setting, a vital starting point that is too often neglected. Without clear goals – whether they are directly sales-focused or concerned with profile, perception and reputation – no amount of measurement can ‘prove’ the success or otherwise of a campaign. How can it when ‘success’ has not been defined? With clearly stated goals, a set of comprehensive measurement criteria then has something to measure against. These criteria will differ from business to business and from campaign to campaign, but examples include: share of voice compared with competitors, media importance and relevance, thought leadership prominence, social media success and changing perceptions among target customers.