Forget ad value - earned media deserves better metrics

Why should organizations focus on earned media visibility, i.e. the publicity it receives from third-party sources such as media coverage, reviews and social media mentions?  When a company receives the desired earned media exposure, it can improve the company's reputation and credibility in the eyes of potential customers, investors and other stakeholders.

Earned media exposure is valuable for several reasons: 

Credibility: Earned media exposure can increase a company's credibility because it comes from third-party sources that are considered more objective and reliable than the company's own marketing communications.
Cost Effectiveness: Earned media exposure can be a cost-effective way to generate publicity and increase your company's visibility because it does not require advertising costs.

Reach: Earned media exposure can reach a wider audience than paid advertising because it is shared across media and platforms with established audiences.
Engagement: Earned media exposure is more likely to generate audience engagement because it is perceived as more authentic and relatable than paid advertising.

Reputation building: Earned media exposure can help companies build a positive reputation and mitigate negative publicity.

Crisis management: Earned media exposure can mitigate the impact of negative publicity on the company during a crisis.

In general, the visibility of earned media can be an effective way for companies to increase recognition and credibility and to reach a wide audience.


Why does the advertising value already end up in the trash can

Because earned publicity is so valuable, it's important to measure its impact and value with the right metrics.  Advertising value or AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) is an old-fashioned metric that tries to calculate the value of earned media exposure by comparing it to the cost of the corresponding advertising space.  If a company receives, for example, a full-page article in a magazine, the advertising value calculates the visibility value by comparing it to the price of a full-page ad in the same magazine.

However, advertising value or AVE is a very unreliable and limited measure for determining the value of earned media for several reasons:

  • Quality: Ad value does not take into account the quality or tone of media exposure earned, which affect exposure value.  An article that highlights the company's strengths and main messages is much more valuable than a brief passing mention with a neutral or negative tone.  Advertising value does not take a position on the content of visibility.
  • Impact: Earned media exposure has a different impact than paid advertising because it is perceived as more credible and reliable.  Advertising value does not take into account differences between earned media exposure and advertising in context.  This leads to an inaccurate estimate of the true impact of visibility.
  • Incorrect comparison: Ad value compares earned media exposure to corresponding ad space, but the two are not comparable.  Earned media exposure provides editorial content, while advertising is paid content.  Communication and advertising are different things, as are cost and value.  The value of earned media exposure cannot be accurately measured by advertising value
  • Lack of standardization: There is no industry-wide standard for calculating advertising value, which leads to inconsistent and unreliable results.  This makes it difficult to compare the value of media exposure in different media or campaigns.
  • Not suitable for the digital environment or social media: Advertising works differently online than in the printed press.  Online advertising is based on paid impressions and not guaranteed publication places.  Thus, it is not possible to give any kind of reliable assessment of advertising value in terms of online advertising, let alone social media content.

The visibility of earned media is in a completely different class in terms of value and is essentially different from the visibility of paid advertising.  Advertising value simplifies the evaluation process and does not take into account the characteristics or content of earned media exposure.


Instead, choose metrics that are based on the goals of your communication

 It is important that companies get a comprehensive understanding of the value of earned media to support decision-making in communication strategies.  So what's in place of ad value?  It is essential to set the metrics in such a way that they can be used to evaluate the achievement of communication goals.  The selection contains plenty of more comprehensive metrics for evaluating media visibility, such as qualitative reach, attention value, presence of main messages or important themes in the media, and visibility of experts.  The findings of media analyzes can be mirrored and also combined with other data sources relevant to your own communication goals, such as reputation studies or customer surveys.
 For setting communication goals and measuring them, you can find the best tips in our e-book "Barcelona principles 3.0 - What every communicator should know about measuring communication", where you get to know the best international practices for measuring communication and how to use them in practice.

Does this sound interesting?

Let us tell you more about how Retriever can help you demonstrate the impact of your communication.

Book a demo