Saturday, December 18, 2010

MediaPost Publications What Does 'Engagement' Do? 12/17/2010

"Engagement" has become one of the more enduring buzzwords of recent years. It started as a vague term tossed about by publishers and then advertisers to indicate some heightened state of communication or interaction between a brand and a consumer. Recently I have heard it made into a more specific noun. Interactions with customers are sometimes called "engagements." To some degree it is an article of faith that engagement is almost an end in itself. But what is the actual effect of engagement? Do different kinds of engagement produce different behaviors in consumers? What needles does this marketing nirvana state actually budge, in the end?

And so I was interested to see how SAY Media was going to go about trying to measure the branding effect of its interactive rich-media ad units. The company just rolled out a method of measuring a sample of users who are interacting with their ad units to see how engagement with the ad lifts the standard brand metrics, as well as other consumer attitudes and intentions toward a brand. SAY deploys what it calls an AdFrames unit that expands to fill the screen when the user's mouse hovers over it for a requisite countdown. The company works on a cost per engagement rather than a standard CPM model. If the user lets the ad expand and enters the ad experience, they are considered engaged. Until now the main metric used to determine the effectiveness of the engagement has been time spent in the ad. "We wanted to understand beyond the proxy measure of time spent or complete views and doing things in the ad," says Matt Rosenberg, VP Solutions, SAY Media. "There isn't a clear line to the brand metrics. Everything in between are proxy measures that advertiser have to assume they know the meaning [of]."

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