Beyond PR

Jun 28, 2016

Beyond Ad Value: An Alternative for PR Measurement

Beyond Ad Value - PR Measurement Tips

PR agencies have an incredible opportunity in today’s digital media landscape. New tools, integrated strategies, and results-driven tactics have evolved the agency’s role far beyond traditional media relations.

In The New PR Agency Benchmarks for Demonstrating Value to Clients, three agency leaders discuss how the modern agency “must make itself indispensable, providing savvy insights and strategic recommendations.”

If the agency’s role is evolving, though, so must the approach to PR measurement.

It’s time to look beyond ad value.

In public relations, Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) or “ad value” refers to the cost of buying the space taken up by a piece of media coverage, had that coverage been an advertisement.

Ad value is calculated by measuring the column inches (in the case of print) or seconds (in the case of broadcast media) and multiplying these figures by the respective medium’s advertising rates (per inch or per second). For online articles, ad value is typically calculated using audience numbers.

Traditionally, PR professionals have used ad value as a quick and easy way to demonstrate the success of their clients’ earned media campaigns.

While this value may have held weight in the past, today’s PR professionals should avoid its use for a number of reasons.

The Problems with Ad Value

There are several problems with using ad value to demonstrate the success of a client’s earned media campaigns.

There is no standard formula: Different PR agencies employ different formulas when calculating ad value. Without a standard formula, clients cannot accurately compare the results of their earned media campaigns if they use multiple agencies. Similarly, it is difficult to compare a client’s campaign results to industry benchmarks, since a different formula was likely used to determine those benchmarks.

Audience numbers are not an exact science: Different agencies may use different providers for audience data, which means the same article may have a different ad value from one report to another. This lack of consistency in audience data makes it difficult to show the value of online news pieces, which is especially problematic given the increase in web-based media campaigns.

Ad values lack context: News articles and advertisements are not one in the same. Messages within ads are 100% controlled by the companies that create them, while news articles are not. Sure, journalists may use parts of company press releases to write their articles, but it is possible for their reporting to contain bias. Ad value does not take messaging or sentiment into consideration.

SE-CO-1-1-1-New-PR-Agency-Benchmarks

An Alternative to Ad Value

What should PR professionals use instead of ad value? The answer is “Impact.”

Impact is a value that quantifies the qualitative aspects of earned media coverage. This value does not rely on audience data or advertising rates, making it more reliable than ad value. Also, unlike ad value, impact can inform clients on the effectiveness of their PR strategies and help improve future campaigns.

Metrics that demonstrate the impact of media coverage include:

Sentiment: What percentage of media covered the brand in a positive, neutral or negative manner?

Outlet Prominence: How influential and relevant to your audience are the media outlets that mentioned the brand?

Coverage Type: What percentage of coverage was in the form of feature stories vs passing mentions?

Key Message Pick-Up: How much coverage can you directly link to the press releases or outreach the brand issued?

Effect on Owned Media: How much traffic did earned media drive to the brand’s owned media channels?

PR pros should work with clients to decide which metrics are important to them, assign values to those metrics, and develop brand benchmarks that can be used across campaigns.

This may take more work than an AVE formula, but the collaboration between agency and brand is worth it. Your clients will thank you for providing actionable insight into their PR efforts and reward you with their business.

Learn how to take your metrics one step further by downloading The New PR Agency Benchmarks for Demonstrating Value to Clients. This free paper outlines how to connect PR and revenue by quantifying your efforts’ impact on search, leads and converted sales.

Author Melissa Toso is a media analyst on PR Newswire’s ‘professional services team, helping global customers with their monitoring and measurement.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title


­ Edward Lundquist 08:28 EDT on Jul 11, 2016

You make this sound like professionals consider ad value equivalencies to be an accepted and legitimate metric in the first place.


Fill in your details below: