Measuring Consumer Engagement: A Great Concept That Has Never Been Tried

About eight years ago, Bob DeSena, Mars; Ted McConnell, P&G; Norm Lehoullier, Grey Interactive; Greg Smith, Ogilvy, and I started the project that became known as Consumer Engagement.

Here was the premise: The moment consumers have the opportunity to see an ad, linear or digital, and before they take action of some kind, there is a space which the five of us called The Engagement Zone.  In this zone, someone who sees an ad decides, usually emotionally, whether they will engage with the ad and ultimately do something with the information included in the ad.

So, we asked ourselves:  What does it take to get a consumer to engage with that ad?  Because if they don’t engage, they won’t think better of the product advertised or, worse yet, won’t effect a transaction.

We defined Consumer Engagement as “turning on a brand prospect or a brand user to a relevant message in an appropriate context.”  We hoped that creative agencies and marketers would cooperate in understanding the “turn on” factor, then write a creative brief to yield a relevant message … either by rejecting a negative belief or supporting a positive belief.



That never happened.

The media loved Consumer Engagement, but only the “appropriate context” part — unfortunately, without a “relevant message.”  Too often you had garbage in, garbage out.

Now that viewability of digital ads is about to happen broadly, there is the opportunity to go back to the “opportunity to see” and ask the question:  Does the ad reflect Consumer Engagement?

The measurement of Consumer Engagement is now more possible than it was eight years ago.

Now because companies like Innerscope and Real Eyes offer scalable research tools that can measure emotional response that get at the “turn on” factor.

Industry players – media companies, advertisers, agencies of all types (creative, media, experiential marketing, PR, social) – should get behind the concept of measuring Consumer Engagement.  It will make for better messaging of all kinds, not just :30 commercials, not just Rising Star display ads and will make it much more likely that Big Data (which measures where the messaging runs, who sees it and what transactions follow), will be much more effective.


What do you think?

3 comments about "Measuring Consumer Engagement: A Great Concept That Has Never Been Tried".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 1, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more, Mike. For years I have been championing the idea that media planners should target people, not only by demographics but by their potential receptivity to what the ad is actually saying. In the latter case, I mean the basic mindset of the audience as it relates to the particular product or service category ----is it a commodity or something more personally relevant. Over and above this is the viewer's general mindset-----is he/she status or image conscious, or style conscious, or worried about health or ecological concerns or, maybe, very price-value conscious. There are ways that the audiences to various forms of TV and other media can be segmented in this manner, as well as the almost meaningless 18-49 or 25-54 "demos" that rule most media buying today. Sadly, I have gotten many fewer converts than I expected but, hopefully, the new targeting and interactive refinements that are appearing in the emerging electronic media will turn this situation around. I expect that advertisers will lead the way by pressing their agencies to make their media people think more like the "creatives" while nudging the latter to grasp the new subtleties and added benefits that media can bring to the table. Media shouldn't be just a numbers game, it should also be part of the advertising process.

  2. Kevin Lee from Didit, October 1, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.

    It seems to me that a scale of engagement needs to be created and vetted before we embark on measuring it. IF indeed engagement can be quantified in a way that it becomes predictive of chances in either behavior or preference then it becomes a powerful tool.

  3. Liz Deranja from Vantage Media, October 1, 2014 at 12:41 p.m.

    Also agree that measuring consumer engagement is something that is difficult but necessary. We took our own stab at it and published the results in a consumer engagement index (accessible here for anyone who is interested: For the index we ran a series of tests with advertising on different types of digital media to see which yielded the most conversions. We're working on putting out another one from another series of tests in the next few weeks.

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