December 17, 2010

Post Advertising Value Equivalent – New PR Measurement Metrics

In a previous post, I lamented over the impression that the (deserved) worldwide ban of the AVE may not have been accompanied by enough replacement recommendations. Well, it’s time to make amends because yesterday’s PRSA/AMEC webinar, presented by David Michaelson, structured the field brilliantly.


Let’s repeat it once more: banning the AVE was not a rhetorical fad. It’s very calculation makes you examine your public relations work purely from an advertising point of view (ad space), thereby loosing much of your engagement work’s true value on the way. And, as it shows very little correlation with any meaningful outcomes, the formula cannot be used to bridge the gap between the CCO’s reporting and the KPI expectations of the other members of the board. However, the Barcelona Principles (AMEC declaration of PR measurement standards) always struck me as intellectually interesting in a French Declaration of Independance sort of way, but of very little field value to practitioners. To be fair, real life solutions have been described, notably at the London Measurement Conference but this webinar provided a very synthetic high level view, not found in other discussions, that every one should read and relate to.

Paraphrasing Dr Michaelson here would be of little value and his slides are available on the AMEC website. I will update this link asap). Instead, here are a few of my reactions to that very interesting work:

First of all, the backbone is a framework for describing the contribution of PR to the traditional marketing funnel. Imagine a matrix with one axis representing PR actors and (traditional) engagement stages (the content producer/the intermediary/the content consumer) and on the other,some marketing funnel stages (awareness, knowledge, interest, preference, action). Each cell is defines a precise situation to which a given set metrics apply best. So, to me, the completed matrix defines a measurement process that unifies MarCom quite elegantly.

The valid metrics matrix

Secondly, I believe this is an open framework that supports Barcelona Principle #2: Focus on outcomes (as in The Financial Value of Corporate Reputation) in many industries and situations. In the webinar slide presented above, sales are the desired business outcome and the horizontal axis follows a typical B2C marketing funnel. But the public relations and public affairs teams in many industries have other practical goals, and corresponding intermediate milestones, that could replace the funnel in the matrix. For instance, a pharmaceutical may focus on the market access of a new medicine. A bank may be discussing micro credits with the government of an emerging country or trying to extinguish a Wikileak fire (yes, I believe this measurement process would be great for crisis management scenarios). An energy major may want to monitor the impact of their engagement with local NGOs on their upstream activity. Each of these scenarios has a corresponding set of intermediate stages to replace the funnel and the corresponding matrix would define the measurement process for the campaign.

Thirdly, a partial disagreement on the integration of Social Media, and Facebook fans in particular, in this process. And this for two reasons. Reason #1: it’s my personal belief (and pet peeve, as regular readers will recognise 😉 ) that Facebook Fans is the new AVE. It’s an easy metric to obtain and it flatters the ego in the same way. But, as argued previously (and heralded by Jay Baer) Facebook Fans only indicate previous affinity with a brand, not advocacy or the result of engagement. And, reason #2, it is my belief most Fans are attracted through reward marketing campaigns (Win an iPad, 10% off for new fans …) that turn a Facebook page into paid media. Still, people will use these metrics and at least this framework places them in a very meaningful context.

Fourthly, what I agree very strongly with, in terms of Social Media integration, is the focus on measuring conversations. And again, for two reasons: #1, The unidirectional PR process on the Y axis of the metrics matrix is still valid in a world with intermediaries such as bloggers and the media. But in social media that model no longer holds true as the consumer can also be the starting point of the conversation, even on the semi-owned territory of a brand page. #2, due to EdgeRank, Facebook’s algorithmic response to Dunbar’s social relationships limits, only a very small percentage of page updates (0.2% to 0.5%) will be seen by fans. The image below illustrates the typically low levels of feedback and engagement found on a status update. Much as lowering the rebound rate on a heavily trafficked page can have a drastic effect on sales, stimulating conversations with existing fans will likely have far more impact on desired outcomes than adding a few more fans.

Typically low Facebook feedback rates

To conclude, the framework presented in the webinar may seem daunting to already super-busy teams. But the point is not to fill in all the cells. Rather, it serves as a great navigational tool to contextualize what measurement you already have going and understand its results. We are currently working on a white paper describing what forms of measurement can be helped by platforms such as those Augure produce (outputting engagement data so that is can be used in other C-Suite software for business correlation, using indicators that have been shown to correlate strongly with business outcomes, integrating new media with traditional media, plugging into web-analytics, message retrieval, use of sentiment analysis for research …) and it will be very interesting to map the results into this matrix to further help structure and simplify the landscape.

If you have comments on this measurement framework, I’d love to hear from you!


  • Excellent post Pascal. Many thanks for the link.

    Jay Baer - December 17, 2010 at 15:36

    • Thanks Jay. Much appreciated by a long time fan !

      pascaljappy - December 17, 2010 at 15:39

  • Your blog post is worth $1.37 in AVE. Non Communications Execs can understand that, and not all the hooey you’ve postulated above.

    Ed Equivalence - December 17, 2010 at 17:06

    • “Execs” may not be able to understand applied physics, either, but I bet they’re glad someone does — especially once the plane leaves the ground!

      Mike Donatello - December 22, 2010 at 18:34

  • Great point, Ed (can I call you Ed?). That post may be worth $1.37 using whatever formula for AVE you fancy most, but it started very interesting conversations with David Michaelson & Jay Baer plus others on LinkedIn. That’s worth a lot more to me. Cheers.

    pascaljappy - December 17, 2010 at 18:25

  • Reblogged this on jonnomason.

    Jonno Mason - February 9, 2012 at 19:44

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