Metric Formerly Known as AVE

Debate continues even among / within occasionally non-homogenous IPR Measurement Commission membership (plenty of intelectual depth here…many are mentors-from-afar without even knowing it, thanks).

Earlier this week select IPR measurement commission members (including Ph.D. heavyweight Brad Rawlins) published a controversial (but I think somewhat valuable) paper.

Essentially, it argues, as commission member Angie Jeffreys of VMS has for a decade (I’ve partially supported her perspective in my blog posts) that:

1. AVE as we have come to know it and (mis)use it is, indeed, wrong
2. but, that known as something else, properly explained and cautioned, used differently as a). a relative proxy over time, and not a one-time absolute $, and b). correlated (no causality here) with business outcomes (rather than simple clip counts and impressions) it–now called Weighted Media Cost–along with tone, does appear to correlate more strongly.

The very visible and vocal KD Paine takes much issue with the Weighted Media Cost paper. While she’s not wrong on many points, I think she’s unfairly criticised the Weighted Media Cost approach for trying to be something it hasn’t claimed to be.  Yes, we all get that PR is more than driving sales.   Thank god.  Yes, we get that engagement and influence (I’m almost sick of hearing those terms) are generated by so much more than traditional, static media coverage.  We know.  We get it.   

Bottom line:

1. AVE–bad. Wrong.  No arguement there. 
2. Weighted Media Cost: not all bad / some value in some cases if properly articulated and if understood to be only what it is.    It’s only what KD Paine calls a Zombie metric if it’s positioned / used as something it’s not. 

So, let’s pause, take a deep breath and give this paper a read with an open, nuanced, grey not-so-black and white mind.   We need to get out of our own way, sometimes.


Social Media Analytics Report Coming

So glad there are so many very smart social media measurement types out there (I consider myself at best a fast follower not a thought leader in the SocMed measurement space).   

Case in point: two of the many though leaders out there, Jeremiah Owyang, formerly of Forester, now a partner with the Altimetre Group and John Lovett from Web Metrics Demystified , are soliciting Twitt-o-sphere follower feedback on what vendors those follwers feel provide good metris and analysis. 

Should make for lots of interesting Twitter chatter in the coming days/weeks.

Can’t wait to read the report. 

Good luck gents.

Measurement Misstep of the Year Award

I’ve tried to strike AVEs from my lexicon.  Firms like Influence Communication toss it right back on the table in articles like this about the Cirque du Soliel dude who went up into to space recently.  The article, discussed recentlyon the InsidePR podcast notes that coverage equated to nearly $600 million in ad value.    Yikes.   Influence, you’ve sent me straight up.  Into space with this one. 

I’ll be characteristically crass and potentially career-limiting. Influence Communications, a sort of news aggregator / simple content analysis / fancy pie chart provider should receive the measurement misstep of the year award for this move. They’ve made much media hay with it. But they’ve done the rest of us–who have read a touch of PR theory and practice PR in this century–a disservice. They’ve thrown us back to the mid 1800s with PR being about selling tickets to the Barnham and Bailey (sp?) circus. With a client like that, Influence must have “no news is bad news” written on their boardroom wall in a circus-like font. The “we sell it cause it makes us money” argument just doesn’t cut it anymore.   

Couple of things:

1. AVEs, used as we know they shouldn’t, are truly ridiculous. Used as an absolute: “our campaign garnered $600 million in equivalent ad value.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Used as one among many far more meaningful relative metrics to demonstrate change over time: OKish, I suppose, if properly qualified / articulated. Angela Jeffreys of VMS (and Institute for PR’s Measurement Commission Member) makes an interesting case for something she calls market value (or proxy) in this paper:    But, I think rightly, she proposes that it not be called AVE and that we certainly not use the way we know we shouldn’t.

Links to several articles / blog posts the topic:

Ad Eq Hanging Around Like a Bad Smell:’s-hangin’-around-like-a-bad-smell

Are We STILL Talking About AVE?

Just when You Thought it Was Safe to Go Back in the AVE H20:

Ad Eq Not-yet-Dead; May be Reincarnated:

Experiential Marketing Measurement: Bolted-on not Baked-in

Recent meetings, research, and invitations to upcoming events inspired this proponent / promulgator to post on research and measurement in the experiential marketing space: events, sponsorships, out-of-home, direct-to-consumer, feet-on-the-street, people as media.

It strikes me that the experiential marketing space is plagued by the same problem the PR industry is: (warning: huge over-generalization coming here) a lack of strategic and measurable objectives linked to the overall organizational goals. Rather, what’s all-too-frequent are random acts of feet-on-the-street . Lots of vague, passive logo soup for the branding soul, ‘brand hug’ stuff. Not so much active ‘brand buy’ stuff. Questions all-too-commonly left unanswered: who do you want to reach? Why? With what effect? What do you want them thinking? Feeling? Doing? Metrics common to the traditional, non-experiential marketing realm–brand preference, likelihood to consider, visit, try, buy, switch, recommend, donate, whatever—generally seem conspicuously absent. (Notable exceptions below)

If the overall approach to experiential marketing (planning and execution) is granular and tactical (driven perhaps by budget and timing), then its measurement is commensurately tactical. Here, measurement often falls into the ‘how much’ and rarely into the ‘how good’ and ‘with what effect’ categories. Myopic measurement-by-tactic not meta measurement-by- objective. Bolted on the back end, not baked in up front. Lots of counting (both contracted and accrued). Some data collection. Little follow-up or activation. Less qualifying. Even less correlating. It’s not about exposure (alone). It’s about interaction-driven impact. Say no to buzz.

But, there seems to be some interesting, perhaps even exceptional, work going on in the space that goes beyond looking at how many t-shirts the cannon squad shot up into the crowd or funky advertising equivalency metrics based on how long a logo was on-screen. Organizations like the MTM Measurement Group and Kneebone Inc. Come to mind. I’m sure there are a bunch of others and I’m looking forward to coming across those. It’s often the organizations that are doing the really neat work that you’d like to hear more from. Trouble is, because they are good at what they do, they are busy. Good for them. Better for their clients.

MTM (Micro Targeted Media) Measurement Group—what sounds like fairly sophisticated hard and software solutions to report post event and in real time engagement within an event footprint: audience measurements such as counts, traffic patterns, proximity, dwell time, as well as demographics (age, gender, ethnicity markers). Add in-field, on-site electronic data capture and surveys and we’re getting close to approaching the elusive experiential marketing ROI. Good for MTM. Better for their clients.

Though I haven’t seen behind the methodological curtain, Kneebone Inc offers what sounds like a, pretty, er, well, sound and robust method that places the measurement of experiential marketing in the broader marketing mix answering questions like: “is it working?” and “how does it perform relative to other tactics?” I imagine there’s some form of market mix modeling (statistical analysis popular in the consumer packaged goods space) at work here. Whatever it is, it seems popular with some very high end clients. Good for Kneebone.  Better for their clients.

Any comment on measurement would be incomplete were it not to mention the ‘S’ word. Standards. Should there be a singular, standard method or metric? Absolutely not. A standard set of guiding principles and best practices? Absolutely. I know they exist in the PR space. I quite like key performance indicators but what might be key for one organization might not be for another. They’d be different one context to the next; one industry to the next.

The ‘B’ word is the ‘S’ word’s ugly cousin. Benchmark. “Against whom or what should we be benchmarking our efforts?” One of the more common questions in measurement. In the case of sponsorship, consider benchmarking against other similar properties. Or, perhaps, very different properties but among competitors. Or, consider benchmarking yourself in an aspirational way relative to competitors and/or properties that, one day, you’d like to emulate.

Hung up on cost? Like the idea of measurement but worried that to implement it would just take budget away from tactical execution? (Measurement means one less wrapped Hummer on the cross-country beach tour). Don’t we measure in other marketing areas to be smarter about where we spend and to avoid costs associated with off-target objectives or strategy? Can we afford not to measure?

Stakeholder Relationships / Role in PR / Meausuring: Interview on

This Measurement PRoponent / PRomulgator was interviewed by Dave Jones over at the podcast recently.

4 questions in 8 minutes (ish) covering:

1.  my stakeholder relationship-centric definition of PR

2.  the role that research and measurement plays in PR in that context / social media and stakeholder relationships as co-enablers

3.  what excites me about PR looking forward:  social media

4.  what frightens me about PR looking forward:  social media.

Twitter Chatter from CCPRF Measurement Event

160 tweets (and climbing) on #ccprf  from Canadian Council of PR Firms’ Measurement Panel attendees and some playing the home game. 

Reading List for Measurement

This PRoponent / PRomulgator is speaking at the Canadian Council for PR Firms/ Meausement Panel tomorrow morning.  After these types of events, I’m always asked:  “what can we read for more on the topic?”

So, because I always forget a few, and in anticipation of that question, and to have a place for those resources to sit, here’s that (non-exhaustive) list:


KD Paine

My Measurement PRoponent / PRomulgator Blog which I offer up more for a fairly extensive blog roll where you’ll find all sorts of smart folks like the following: 

Ton Watson / Dummy Spit:          

Don Bartholomew / MetricsMan:     

Nick Grant / Media Track:             

Michael Blowers:                         

Fleming Madsen / Onalytica:         


Thought Leadership / White Papers:

The Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Commission


1.  Excellence in PR & Communications Management. (chpts 7, 23), Grunig J. (ed). (1992).  New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 


2.  A Primer of Public Relations Research.  Stacks, D.W. (2002).  New York, NY: The Guildford Press


3.  Evaluating Public Relations.  Watson, T. & Noble, P.  (2005).  London: Kogan Page. 


4.  Public Relations:  What Research Tells Us.  Pavlik, J. (1987). New York: Sage Publications. 


5.  Using Research in Public Relations.  Broom, G.M. & Dozier, D.M. (1990). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.


6.  Measuring Success:  The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Measuring Public RelationshipsPaine, K.D. (2007).  NH:  KDPaine & Partners Publishing. 


7.  The Content Analysis Guidebook.  Neuendorf, K.  (2002).  London:  Sage Publications. 


8.  Communication Research.  Stacks, D.W. & Hocking J.E.  (1999).  New York:  Longman. 


9.  Mass Communication Research Methods.  Hansen, A. (1998). New York: New York University Press


10.  Unleashing the Power of PR:  A Contrarian’s Guide to Marketing and Communication.  Weiner, M.  (2006).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.