AMEC Measurement Summit Reignites AVE Debate

The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is hosting its third European Summit on Measurement in Lisbon this week (it started yesterday and ends tomorrow) and AVEs are once again a hot topic.

AVEs, or Ad Value Equivalency, has been a controversial metric for eons. The Barcelona Principles, unveiled last summer, state specifically that “AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations.” However, PR measurement standards have yet to be decided. In an effort to move the process along, AMEC and the PRSA announced a collaborative effort late last year.

In a conversation with PRWeek, David Rockland, AMEC director and global head of research at Ketchum, said, “One: better techniques, and two: client education, and that’s really what this conference is all about.”

“If you think of what an AVE is, it’s the cost of advertising, and for the longest time PR, for the lack of anything better, was saying the value of what we do in PR equals the cost of advertising,” he added.

In a press release summarizing her thoughts on the issue, Ruth Pestana, Hill & Knowlton’s worldwide director of strategic services, calls AVEs “crude” and says, “AVEs do not account for the qualitative aspects of media coverage such as tonality and message alignment.”

“Metrics should be linked to objectives – and the objectives of a consumer marketing program are different from those of an investor relations program, and an employee engagement program,” the release statement adds.

The schedule today calls for additional measurement discussion with representatives from PR industry groups and individual practitioners reasserting their commitment to solving the measurement riddle and discussing ways to bring clients into the conversation.

Also, according to the AMEC website, Summit attendees will be talking about the results from the group’s International Business Monitor, a study that polled members of AMEC. Findings show 14 percent business growth for firms providing measurement and analysis services. Peter Granat, chair of the group’s business development committee and president of Cision North America, attributes the upswing to “the need to be much more precise in determining the impact of earned media.”

Results also show that only 11 percent are reporting a client interest in social media measurement, and 44 percent think that clients and PR firms are ready to measure sans AVEs due to the release of the Barcelona Principles last year.