Advertising Value Equivalent.
Three words which have haunted the PR industry for years and despite advances in analytics, this method is still used in some places today.
Add into the AVE mix an industry agreed “multiplier” to take into account the integrity of free news coverage over paid for advertising and you have what was considered the standard measuring stick by which PR impact was justified.
It was also argued that this was the reason why the PR industry struggled to define and demonstrate how it was adding value to a business.
Thankfully the industry “crossed the chasm” and realised that AVE is a dying method of measuring success.
If you put your website at the centre of your PR campaign then you can measure success based on the impact PR has on the performance analytics.
With over a quarter (27%) of B2B customers preferring to research independently for a solution online – according to research by Gartner – being able to be found online and rank highly for relevant searches continues to be an important new business strategy.
While some of us still remember the old days of cutting physical articles out of newspapers and trade magazines to stick into coverage books, digital and analytics tools now provide PROs with everything we need to directly show how PR campaigns can impact a business’ website.
While there is a broad range of metrics that can be measured on a client’s website there are a few things which every PR campaign should be focussed on above anything else.
· Inbound links – Sometimes referred to as “link building” all online PR activity should be carried out with the goal of generating legitimate, high domain authority links back to your website.
There are a number of algorithms which Google uses to asses where to place a website within its ranking, links are still considered to be an important factor in determining whether you’ll get close to top spot.
· Referrals and organic traffic – Increasing organic traffic is essentially job one when it comes to a digital strategy as this is the number of people naturally finding your website while carrying out a search. The more authoritative the website the more organic traffic it will generate. If your PR activity is generating a healthy amount of links as well then you would expect to see traffic from those links (referrals) increasing as well
· Short and long tail keyword performance – Every business should have an SEO strategy in place which PR activity can feed into. If the PR activity is successful and is coupled with an effective SEO focused website and regular keyword content, you should be able to measure the performance of keywords and how your business ranks for branded and non-branded search terms. If keyword performance plateaus or fails to increase the rank for target keywords, it could be that you're targeting words your customers aren’t using and changes need to be made.
· Coverage – While terms like “impressions” and “circulation” have reduced value, you should still be measuring how much coverage you are delivering for clients and in what kind of media you are getting that coverage. At the end of the day gaining a media profile remains a key motivator for clients and it is our job to deliver it.
While Advertising Value Equivalent appears to be on its way out as a measurement tactic of PR, there is still a way to go.
Part of the problem is that the PR industry has never been able to agree on a standard measurement indicator.
Whether it’s the Barcelona Principles, an Integrated Evaluation Framework or the PESO model, most agencies measure their campaigns in a slightly different, if ever more digital way.
Measuring success and business impact is essential if PR is to become the boardroom priority, and it should be the responsibility of the industry to understand this importance and for clients to completely understand how an agency will measure success before signing on the dotted line.