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Defining & Measuring Engagement – A Holy Grail? (part II)

August 28, 2008

Publishers and advertisers view engagement differently
Advertising supported publishers and corporate/brand site managers have always used web analytics to measure basic forms of user engagement, e.g. number of visitors, page views, time spent, etc. These measures also provide publishers with immediate feedback on traffic levels, and ultimately, the trend of available impressions that could be sold.

 

As Internet users began spending more time with high bandwidth content and Web 2.0 applications, publishers soon realized revenue models based on pages served wasn’t such a great idea. Some even theorized users of this content might be more valuable to advertisers.

 

Advertisers already knew rich media outperformed standard banner ads in both branding effectiveness and CTRs, so it was easy to conclude that high bandwidth content and social media experiences would provide similar value.

 

Many managers of brand sites and interactive marketing researchers successfully identified correlations between site metrics such as repeat visits, time spent, and page views and brand metrics. Unfortunately the traffic on most brand sites is relatively small, thus difficult to move the needle in a big way. Brand marketers are increasingly dependant on high traffic publishers and ad networks to connect with new consumers.

 

The wall between advertisement and publisher content is high on most ad supported sites, as it should be. However, banner blindness is now an unspoken truth and the primary goal for most online advertisers today is to simply get a user’s attention.

 

In many ways, advertisers and publishers compete for attention – this is nothing new, but if a publisher is successful in growing highly engaged users, doesn’t that engagement come at the expense of the advertiser?

 

Advertisers are primarily interested in getting consumers to engage with their brand, not in increasing ad exposures to users who are engaged in doing something else. Too often brand engagement is peripheral to the engagement experience.

 

Next time: What is “engagement” anyway?

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