In writing four articles on audience online engagement, I have jumped into the debate about the validity of the panel approach, how to define engagement, and what the significance of a new engagement index could be for the advertising industry. An index, though, is most useful to a publisher as a marker: Here is where we are today on our way to a better index tomorrow. Good publishers examine their site metrics carefully; great publishers seek to understand what the audience experience is and how to improve it.
I was living in San Francisco in 1999, which was a considerable upgrade from Union City, N.J., where movers picked up my milk crates five years prior. It was in 1999 when my beloved Shanghai Kelly's softball team won the league championship, stocks I knew nothing about made my bank account swell, and I started working for Snowball.com. I haven't swung a bat in years and the swelling has gone way down, but the lessons I learned from my time at this dot-com venture continue to play an integral role in my professional life.
In the movie "Pleasantville," there was a social stigma attached to anything that represented change, or that failed to measure up to a pre-defined idea of what was, well...pleasant. For the citizens of Pleasantville, pleasant meant roads that don't go past the city limits, colors that don't vary from the approved palette, and books with no controversial ideas. If we fast-forward from that black and white Mayberry-like town set in the '50s to our current online media culture, we see new stigmas developing just as quickly as we dismiss old ones. Such is the case with in-text advertising.
I bet not, and suspect you don't know anyone who did. And yet you and anyone else who has been on the Internet the last eight years have an unusually high awareness of this institution. I first learned of this school back in 2000 when someone on my team sold them an online advertising campaign at a rate much lower than we sold to others, and eight years later this advertiser is one of the largest on the Web. It's a classic case study of brand building on the Internet -- and yet we still find ourselves losing the battle …