Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Ad Value Sham

Lacking our own true north when it comes to measuring PR effectiveness, some brainiac hit on the idea of Ad Value Equivalency, which - loosely defined - tries to measure the value of a PR "hit" against the value of an advertisement in the same magazine, e.g., "If the clipping in Newsweek is 4" x 4" and a 4" x 4" advertisement in Newsweek costs $225,000, then the PR clip is worth $225,000."

Yecch. This is so wrong. It's like saying, "How many apples does it take to make an orange?"

The measurement experts at KD Paine have thought about this a lot. While they do not, bless them, approve of Ad Value Equivalency as a measurement tool, they understand why it has its merits:

"Since ad rates are an indication of relative credibility, an argument can be made for using ad rates as a factor in analyzing media. How much a publication charges for advertising is a reflection not just of its circulation, but also of its reputation versus its peers. So for example, in Canada, the Globe & Mail and the National Post have identical circulations, but the Globe & Mail can charge considerably more for ad space because it is the more credible publication. While some would argue that an eyeball reached is an eyeball communicated to, Surveillance Data has looked at this issue and believes that when you factor in ad rates you get a higher degree of correlation with ensuing customer behavior."

That's all well and good, but it's still B.S.

PR's success must be measured by its ability to generate SALES LEADS. So looking at the example above, what if the core audience for your client's product is the "typical" National Post reader?? In that case, despite the Globe & Mail's more credible reputation and higher ad rates, its value to your company is inconsequential compared to the value of a feature in the National Post!

I hear this a lot when SHIFT replaces an incumbent firm: "We got a lot of ink, but it just didn't move the needle on sales."

The PR firm that waltzes into the client's boardroom, pleased as a peacock about their Ad Value Equivalency scores, typically knows very little about how to take their program to the next level. If you don't move the needle on SALES, you'll never get out of the driveway.

6 Comments:

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