A Primer For Selling Online Engagement

Since I have been writing for MediaPost, I have focused most of my columns on various facets of engagement, hoping to contribute to the industry dialogue on this topic, by suggesting ways that we can think about engagement in a way that enables advertisers and digital sellers to buy and sell more effectively. And so I thought it would be a good idea to offer a primer (disclosure: ex-college & high school teacher on the loose) that pulled together some of the central ideas I have been writing about here for the past 15 months or so.
First, let's look at the pivotal role "engagement" plays:

Top 10 Reasons Why Audience Engagement is the Key to Online Selling

1.     Audience reach is a only a number.

2.     Audience composition is about the delivery of target audience segments.

3.     Good results for advertisers derive from engagement with engaged users.

4.     Engagement is a story, not a metric.  It is the best sales story you can possibly tell advertisers.

5.     Engagement requires a keen understanding of your audience interests.

6.     A strong engagement story requires a deep understanding about why your site matters to your audience.

7.     A strong advertising pitch uses engagement insights to distinguish  great sites from the good ones.

8.      The best engagement story  is one that connects the advertisers' goals with the interests and passion of your audience.

9.     The best sites tell this story well (read below for some examples).

10. Advertisers need knowledgeable salespeople who can show them how to successfully engage their target audiences.

Next, Why Engagement Matters

What do advertisers want to know about engagement?
·     That the right audience is having a rewarding experience and paying close attention to what they see on the site

How does this translate into advertising opportunities?
·     Advertisers need knowledgeable salespeople who understand what their audiences are doing on their sites and what kinds of advertising will work.

What kind of knowledge do advertisers need salespeople to provide?
·     All sharing of information is predicated on a keen understanding of the client's goals and needs. That is the first kind of knowledge: client knowledge.

·     The leading Web sites are the ones that have an unsurpassed understanding of their own audience -- who they are, what makes them tick, what they are doing on the site, how the site is structured to offer a maximum user experience, what kinds of engagement with advertising works and what doesn't.

Finally, let's look at who's doing a good job of connecting the dots between an advertiser's need to engage an audience and the engagement story of a particular online brand. In the twice-yearly Advertiser Intelligence Report, market intelligence firm Advertiser Perceptions has noted a strong correlation between having a sales team perceived as "knowledgeable" and the advertiser's conviction that they will run.
When online media decision makers see a sales team as knowledgeable, there is a 40% lift in buying conviction.  And how do marketers and advertisers define "knowledge"? Essentially, knowledge is seen as two sides of the same coin:  a media seller needs to know the client (advertising goals, individual needs etc) and have a keen understanding of what it will take to succeed on the media seller's site.
This correlation between sales knowledge and buying conviction is borne out by the companies that top the list of the 150 online brands in the Advertising Intelligence Report:
· (Wall Street Journal)







· (E! Entertainment)


As Brandon Starkoff, senior vice president/global director at Starcom, said to me once, "We tend to spend more with the leaders because they know more about their audiences than their competition. And we then can rely on their knowledge to show our clients the best ways to succeed."  Amen



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