Marketers Should Engage Engagement

It makes sense that a marketing facet that can lead to misaligned incentives, dissatisfying results, and wasted dollars would be given the utmost attention. Yet some marketers are still failing to prioritize engagement.

According to Exponential Interactive‘s whitepaper “Engagement: Not Just a Buzzword, the Art of Driving Active Attention,” prioritizing consumer engagement today is essential to resolving three forces with which all marketers struggle:

Time is valuable: Ads are competing for an increasingly scarce and expensive resource. Marketers must find a way to take full advantage of a consumer’s attention before she moves on. If not, it was all for naught.

Data is not enough: The fact is that big data is a fading frontier, and is not enough on its own. Marketers must ascertain how to best apply the data to capture and retain a consumer’s active attention with their ads.

The wrong incentives lead to the wrong outcomes: Optimizing impressions or clicks encourages behavior that all but abandons the intent of advertising in the first place. An advantage of seeking audience interaction is that it aligns advertisers, publishers, and vendors to the best possible outcome.

“Our industry has used the term ‘engagement’ liberally for two decades, with little consensus on what it means. Instead, we turn around and optimize our advertising campaigns toward simplistic metrics that reward high-volume, low-involvement content,” said Bryan Melmed, vice president, insights services at Exponential, in a release. “This isn’t working for anyone, especially brand advertisers. We need to think critically about why engagement is important in the first place and what metrics we can use that truly capture active user attention.”

The whitepaper goes on to say that opt-in user interaction is best enhanced via video advertising and rich media—especially with optimal use of the teaser and brand consistency in interactive elements.

The whitepaper notes that when measuring brand impact, advertisers should look at cognitive, emotional, and physical engagement on a spectrum that’s well-suited to the specific campaign. This includes larger brand awareness metrics such as purchase intent, sentiment, and intent to seek more information to more physical metrics like conversion rate, dwell time, and interaction rate.

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