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AVEs: easy, superficial, misleading, useless

We’ve known for decades that AVEs (advertising value equivalents) tell us nothing about the success of public relations campaigns. What’s worse – and obvious – is that they tell us thewrong thing, obscuring what PR really does and tempting naïve clients to think it’s a substitute for advertising.

So why are they still used?

Cynics are prepared to give clients AVE reports, knowing they are rubbish, if it keeps them happy. This is the height of dishonesty and is not countenanced by the PRCA.

Muppets don’t know how fraudulent AVEs are and innocently present them to clients as meaningful. These people need help. They should read a book, visit a website or take a PRCA course.

Sloths realise that genuine evaluation takes more time and trouble than getting an intern to calculate AVEs. Whether two-toed or three-toed, they are a blight on our profession.

Meltwater: this one is simply incomprehensible.

I suspect the colossal numbers associated with clicks/visits/page-views get clients excited and have seduced some PR people into the ad agencies’ hopeless OTS metric. Even though half the ‘results’ are fake and the average visit lasts 15 seconds. These figures tell us nothing. But to an idle mind, OTS, clicks and AVEs all look comfortingly numeric.

What should we do?

If clients want to use AVEs, condemn this obsolete embarrassment forcefully (but remember it’s our fault) and explain how to go about real PR evaluation. Most clients are fascinated by the idea that we can measure changes in opinion, sentiment and behaviour, and will buy in. If not… do you really want to work for a client who refuses to understand what PR does?