Anyone who thinks that earned media placements can be equated (and measured) to the equivalent advertising cost (AVE) of that placement as if it were an advertisement, doesn’t have a clue. Just to make sure you all understand my point, here’s an example: A half page article on Company X in Business Week would be measured (and valued) by what it would actually cost Company X to by a half page ad in that same publication.
Katie Paine is one of the measurement gurus in our industry. I completely agree with her recent post which not only argues against using this type of metric, but also attempts to outlaw the practice through something new called The Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. These seven core beliefs were recently mapped out by a lot of very smart research and measurement folks at a conference in Barcelona.Some of these points seem obvious, but just the same, it’s great that all are being reinforced because many in our industry still do a lousy job of showing any real value or proof that their communications programs actually work. I’ve been harping about the advertising equivalency issue for years. It makes no sense because an ad is not an earned media placement and there simply is no way to scientifically equate one to the other.
Some of the other tenets that were pushed forward in Barcelona include such common sense practices as setting real measurable goals before each program begins. One of my personal favorites is that real outcomes need to be measured, not just outputs. And, of course, we all should know by now that media cannot be measured alone without integrating a metric for social media as well.
Finally, Katie is spot on by stating that measurement shouldn’t just be about protecting turf and budgets (oh by the way, that’s the only thing that happens when advertising equivalency measurement is implemented). No, it should be all about measuring client programs so that we can see if a campaign is actually working. A good measurement program will create real transparency so client/agency can then channel money into those program areas that work best and prescriptive changes can be made to specific components that may have gone awry.I commend your work, Katie.