I first heard of Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) very early in my agency career, way back in the 90s. Then it was our practice to calculate how much a client would have had to pay for an ad the same size as an editorial piece. Once we had that number, we’d triple it to try to wrangle the value of editorial independence. More often than not, clients didn’t buy it. They still don’t.
That’s why I was surprised to see the concept resurrected in a recent report from InfluencerDB, an influencer marketing software company, which uses Earned Media Value (EMV), the cash value of attention a brand gets on social media.
The report explains: “Earned Media Value is the equivalent cost of advertising that would garner the same amount of exposure as postings mentioning a brand campaign, based on followers and a US$5 CPM (cost-per-mille).”
According to the report, the top 20 brands mentioned in a sample of more than 900,000 Instagram posts created $659,882,860 of ‘earned media value’. More than 11,000 influencers were paid for their posts. Another 158,000 profiles, each with more than 15,000 followers, featured branded posts on an unpaid basis. The study looked at the first five months of 2018.
It seems to me that if a rose is a rose, then an AVE is an EMV. Click To Tweet The report doesn’t give a rationale for the $5 CPM. This is arbitrary at best considering the study’s focus on Instagram.
Evaluating the actual influence of Instagram profiles is notoriously difficult. The number of followers is almost no measure at all. First of all, it’s easy to buy followers and costs as little as $10 for a thousand. However, these bought followers are often largely bots, inactive accounts or are not relevant to the profile owner. So where’s the influence?
In addition, there are cheap ways to automate Instagram activity such as liking posts and following others. These build a following quickly. But, the new followers are often not even aware they’ve followed which limits the opportunity to get into their feeds. So where’s the influence?
Getting meaningful influencer campaign measurement
It’s clear that AVE, or MVE as it were, are arbitrary metrics at best and are pretty much useless in evaluating campaign success. It takes two things to get the meaningful measurement for influencer campaigns: strategic goal setting and relationship building.
By creating SMART goals that are linked directly to the business strategy, and aligning all activities with these goals, influencer campaigns can be accurately evaluated. Were sales up? Did you recruit new employees? Did people attend the event? These are actual measures of success.
Building positive and mutually beneficial relationships with people who have actual influence is crucial to the success of influencer programs. Do the research to identify people who have engaged followings, whose interests are relevant and aligned with yours. It can take a lot of time and effort, but this is what is required to leave the campaign mentality behind and realize the true value of influencer relations.
Contact me to find out how to build influencer relations into your marketing and communications strategy.