FiftyOneZeroOne

Archive for December 2010

AMEC chief Barry Leggetter has been interviewed on CIPR TV about the end of AVEs and what comes next. Go to http://bit.ly/huAkbG but skip the first five minutes.

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Recently, the combined worthiness of AMEC, CIPR, PRSA and PRCA pronounced that Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) are dead. First it came in the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles finalised in July and then this jumble of acronyms met again in London in mid-November to reiterate their belief that AVEs must be replaced.

As readers of DummySpit and of Paul Noble’s and my book Evaluating Public Relations will know, I have criticised and opposed AVEs for a very long time. In summary, they tell us nothing and are based on a false calculation.

The Barcelona Declaration’s Principle 5 says “AVEs are Not the Value of Public Relations”. It goes on to say that AVEs “do not measure the value of public relations and do not inform future activity; they measure the cost of media space and are rejected as a concept to value public relations.”

This is the PR equivalent of the Christian baptismal promise to “reject Satan and all his works” and it was positive to see immediate statements from CIPR and PRCA supporting the move away from AVEs. The speakers at the London Measurement Conference are also well worth reviewing for their views.

What will happen now? AVEs continue to be very popular with 2009 research finding that they appear in over 40% of evaluations.

An immediate step would be to bar them as supportive evidence in industry award entries, thus denying their legitimacy. When industry leaders were asked directly to do this, there was some foot-shuffling but general assent that judging criteria should recognise more robust evaluation methods. That’s a good step forward. Already PRSA weights evaluation methods as 25% of the score in its Silver Anvil awards, with AVEs given little credit. Let’s hope other industry awards follow that lead and roll back decades of unprofessional practice.

The latest, very topical Managing Outcomes newsletter from Tony Jaques in Australia has a very good article that questions the value of  Issues Advertising by large organisations. The killer data that he uses to support the case is about the low level of trust that the public has in advertising and in the statements by organisations about themselves:

“… the credibility of traditional media advertising is continuing a steady decline. In fact a study of 2,000 adults in the UK and US for the British company Alterian showed that only 5% of consumers (4% UK, 6% US) trusted advertising, and only 8% (9% UK, 6% US) believe “what the company says about itself.” If it is true that well over 90% of the public don’t believe advertising, perhaps [Australian bank] CBA should have remembered the wise old maxim on the subject – Corporate advertising is like wetting yourself in a dark suit. It very briefly gives you a nice warm feeling, but no-one notices.”

I recommend signing up for Tony’s regular newsletter on issue management. It’s always readable – and he’s got the hand-on experience and research to support the case that is being made.


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