Sunday, December 03, 2006

When Reporting Media Engagement Rankings, One Must Define Engagement

Andrew Hampp at AdAge praises National Geographic Channel for its engagement leadership, based on two studies released last week:
If you're looking for viewers who are engaged with what they're watching, then Rich Goldfarb, senior VP-media sales at National Geographic Channel, should be on your list of people to call. Mr. Goldfarb's 5-year-old cable channel leads the pack of specialized cable, print and online media that scored high in a pair of studies on consumer engagement released yesterday.

In a commissioned study of the cable industry with the Gallup Organization, National Geographic Channel had the largest portion of engaged viewers, 45%, when compared to 16 competitors such as A&E, Discovery Channel and TLC. The National Geographic brand also scored high in nearly all the major engagement categories in Monroe Mendelsohn Research's third annual PReSS Survey, which added websites and cable networks to its list for the first time this year.
But two outstanding questions are left unanswered:
  1. How is engagement being defined in both the aforementioned reports?
  2. Is there any evidence that advertising or sponsorships with the most engaged media titles behave differently from the least?
This is one of the challenges of the advertising industry’s engagement initiative. The buzzword is too often accepted at face value as a scorecard metric, with no industry-wide agreement on a definition. Until there is acceptance of a common definition, everyone in the media, marketing and advertising industries must define exactly how the term is being used, whenever it is cited. This goes for research vendors, research buyers, trade associations and trade reporters who cover the space among others. Providing case-by-case definitions is as important as explaining research methodology.

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