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Brand Engagement

Defining Success in Brand Engagement

August 18th, 2016   ||    by Charlene Weisler

A recent article in AdExchanger talks about the need to move to brand engagement measurement instead of the traditional metrics of audience delivery and reach. Brand engagement has always been the ultimate measurement goal for marketers because it presumes that engagement with a message will result in action towards sales.

But what does engagement measurement really mean and what is the best metric for measuring it? For the past decade, industry experts and organizations have tried to reach a consensus on the definition of engagement and have come up with hundreds of possibilities. If not everyone can agree on what engagement is, how can we agree on a measurement for it? It’s a conundrum.

Defining Engagement

There’s general agreement that there is no agreement in defining engagement. Or Shani, CEO of Adgorithms, concludes that, “Everyone has a different definition of engagement. You need to ascertain what works for your specific brand. For some it will be time spent on the home page. For others it could be viewing a video or reading an article.”

Dan Schiffman, CRO TVision, believes that engagement involves “actual visual engagement with content on the screen” captured via eye-tracking facial recognition. His firm uses a single-source panel, which might be perfect for specific digital campaigns but impractical for mass or cross-platform ad campaigns.

For Rex Briggs, CEO Marketing Evolution, “Engagement is a state of consumer behavior with advertising to predict future sales or other positive marketing outcomes.”

Trends in Measuring Engagement

Should marketers define their campaign successes with an engagement metric rather than by delivery or reach?

“No,” says Briggs, “Engagement is a surrogate for what the marketer really cares about, which is usually profitable sales or lifetime customer value.” But, he points out, “Engagement is better than impression and reach as long as the marketer has built a model that proves the relationship of the engagement metrics to the ultimate marketing goal.”

“Impression, count, and reach are useful,” notes Briggs, “But not all impressions are created equal. Some contribute more to sales. Some are stronger at building awareness and encouraging initial product trial. Some are better to remind customers to buy again. Engagement is an improvement over impressions, reach, and clicks, but engagement metrics are far from perfect. The trend is unified measurement systems that weight the engagement metrics that are most predictive to sales and brand perceptions.”

Advice to Planners

Schiffman proposes that planners should “garner audience attention. But then we are only measuring potential attention for eyes on the screen. With eye tracking, a planner can be sure that they are getting eyes on the screen.” He recommends that planners “focus more on effective reach percentage that can be multiplied to get attentive audience levels.”

But what is not taken into account today is context. “Some ads perform better in specific programs. We are not yet capturing the contextual relationship of brand and creative to program content. Certain creative and brands that have context relative to the program have a greater index of attention, changing the way you place and plan media,” he notes.

Briggs advises, “Engagement can propel a marketing campaign forward to achieve higher sales goals if used properly. Our advice, get person-level data for a large set of people where you can build a statistical model that uses engagement to predict the marketer’s real objective, such as sales. With this information, you can use the right engagement metrics to optimize marketing ROI.”

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