Advertising value equivalents are not the value of communication

From the standpoint of communication, earned media is the most coveted visibility.

Advertising value equivalent (AVE), however, is a measure for purchased media and says nothing about achieving the real goals of communication.


Using advertising value equivalent (AVE) to measure the value of earned media space is not recommended, it can even be misleading. AVE is a KPI for purchased media and says nothing about the value of earned communications. Therefore, it can be misleading to measure communication by how much earned media space would have cost if it were an advertisement.


  • What is advertising value equivalent

    AVE refers to the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement. AVE's would commonly meaure the size of the coverage gained and its placement and calculate what the equivalent amount of space, if paid for as advertising, would have cost. In some cases a multiplier could also be used, for example to weigh in the tone of the publicity or the credibility of the source.

There are six key weaknesses in ad value as a measure of communication

  • AVE does not take into account the difference between media earned and purchased.

  • Advertising can be managed. Not communication.

  • AVE is not a qualitative measure, nor does it tell us about the quality of the content.

  • Ad value doesn’t work in the current digital world

  • Successful crisis communication is sometimes invisible

  • Ad value describes only the imagined spend, not the end result

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  • The Barcelona Principles

    The Barcelona Principles were first agreed upon by PR practitioners from 33 countries who met in Barcelona, Spain in 2010 for a summit convened by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). The principles have since then been updated twice, in 2015 to the version 2.0 and in 2020 to the latest version of Barcelona Principles 3.0. Regular updates respond to the rapidly advancing change in the communications industry.