Defending Ad Value Equivalencies


I read with interest PR News' April 1 article titled "Study Shows PR Pros Making Progress in Following the Barcelona Principles." I respectfully disagree with the premise that advertising equivalencies are not a value indicator for public relations earned media measurement.

Advertising value equivalencies (AVEs) are a marketing/public relations value measurement.

For many years, marketing and public relations professionals have used AVEs as one measure to determine the comparative value/cost of a nonpaid earned media placement. It is what your earned media coverage would have cost if it were paid advertising print space or air time.

I have used AVEs and other measures successfully throughout my 40-plus year career, which included working for globally recognized, industry-leading brands and PR agencies. At each venture, AVEs were not just requested by C-level executives, they were expected.

You see, AVEs reveal something many PR professionals claim to provide — tangible value. While some may claim AVEs are inaccurate or antiquated measurements, if you review most PR award submissions, you’ll see AVEs and similar dollar-value measurements listed as key proof points for success.

The real issue related to AVEs is how they’re used and derived. I believe AVEs are relevant and meaningful when combined with the following assessments and stipulations:

  • Placement is in the right medium and media
  • Placement reaches the targeted audience
  • Distribution of the placement is significant
  • There is a favorable percentage of positive vs. negative tone  related to the client within the piece
  • Client message(s) and spokesperson quotes are included in the story
  • The story placement location and/or timing is of good quality
  • Share of voice and audience impressions are measured in connection with AVEs
  • AVEs are defined as cost to buy the same space or time. I divide by two.

The nonmeasureable but significant part of AVEs is that the placement has the aura of third-party credibility by originating from independent journalists or producers. It’s from here that unspoken value is derived, which further strengthens a PR professional’s case for relevancy.

A different version of this article originally appeared in PR News.


The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily The University of Texas at Austin.

About The Author

Terry Hemeyer

Senior Lecturer, Department of Advertising, College of Communications, University of Texas at Austin

Professor Terry Hemeyer is one of the few public relations executives that have attained C-suite status beyond typical communications functions....

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