Making Measurement Non-Negotiable
So why is AVE still in the headline?
No conference worth its salt is complete without a call to action for the delegates, and so the AMEC Summit in Bangkok has been no different. AMEC CEO Barry Leggetter issued a call to the delegates to discuss how to make measurement non-negotiable. Given this was to a bunch of measurement geeks most of whom had travelled long distances to attend a summit on measurement was rather like a Priest calling the faithful to prayer.
The intent however was sound. How could we, the measurement faithful, return to our businesses and spread the measurement gospel.
Speaking from the agency side, the issue is not to get clients to measure but to get them to measure the right things. Much has been said over the past 36 hours about the importance of working to the right metrics and to speak the language of the boardroom by focusing on business outcomes. So why did the debate descend into recrimination about the continued use of AVE (advertising value equivalency) when most of us thought this issue was long put to bed.
According to the most recent PRCA research in the UK, more than 35 per cent of UK PR agencies and just over 23 per cent of in-house teams still use AVEs as a form of measurement. To a room full of AMEC members, this is heresy. The fact remains however that until this industry educates and informs its practitioners over what best practice measurement looks like, there will always be clients and agencies who revert to AVE because it is relatively easy to measure and even easier to ‘justify’.
The irony is that we need to raise awareness and knowledge of measurement and evaluation to an industry that raises awareness and knowledge on behalf of its client’s day in day out. We are clearly failing to educate the many stakeholders that hold sway over budget. Surely, with the continued efforts of organisations like AMEC and the support of industry associations such as the PRCA and ICCO (the PR association’s association), this industry can develop and deliver a global PR campaign with the goal of eradicating the AVE once and for all.
The good news is that evidence does point to the fact that the AVE is in its death throes. AMEC itself released figures that suggests client demand for AVEs dropped from 80% in 2010 to just 18% this year. Clearly these figures contradict the PRCA data but the trend is there. Use of AVE is dropping off. And as AMEC Chair, Richard Bagnell has said: “It’s time AVE’s stopped being a talking point in our industry. We will be investing significant time and resource to kill off finally this derided metric.”
The question is not then one of making measurement non-negotiable but of making measurement relevant. Using the best practice shared by the AMEC delegates, taking advantage of the resources on the AMEC website, providing advice and guidance to practitioners the world over, and working with clients to develop best in class measurement frameworks are all part of the solution.