Friday, January 05, 2007

At The End Of The Day, Is Engagement A Buzzword?

Philip Tiongson at Organized Chaos says "engagement" should be added to the list of most overused words in the creative profession:
"Engagement" - Engagement, engagement, engagement - the holy grail of media planners. What exactly is it? What does it mean? Erwin Ephron has given us some thoughts about - but what do we do with it? Is it measurable? Is it observable? Is it real? Is it like Schrodinger's cat - half alive, half dead?
Can anyone anwser Philip?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like other buzzwords that have preceded it -- e.g., knowledge management, reengineering -- there's value in the concept that often gets obscured by the hype and bastardization of the term.

Personally, I think that marketers that derive value from the concept of engagement will do so by defining and measuring engagement specific to their own firm's needs.

To see an example of this, please check out this post on my blog:

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI - just wanted to categorically say I am not "anti-engagement". :) It's just that media planners, strategic planners, and everyone else just keep on using it without really operationalizing it.

I think there is more that needs to be done to operationalize it - define it theoretically, observe and measure it, and act on such measurements and observations.

When I waas younger, I used to hear the term "paradigm shift" as a justification from creative and media directors (my superiors, really) to justify creative executions not grounded on real, consumer realities.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, it's a vacuous buzzword.

"Engagement" means "value to the media user" or even just "good."

But there wouldn't be blogs and conferences about "media of value to the user" or about "good" media. (Well, there already are, but they're enormous and fairly mainstream.)

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:59 AM  
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6:45 AM  
Blogger Shanx said...

Engagement in the media context is just what it means cognitively in general: the extent to which a "beholder" (participant, user, consumer, whathaveyou) interacts with a piece of stimulus (content, banner ad, MMS, print copy) to the extent that he derives some value out of it and remembers it (positively or negatively).

The good thing about the term is that it gives a succinct definition to all that goes on in marketing and media. It's nice to be able to define things, as in, "I am a vegan".

The bad thing about the term is that it gives a definition to all that goes on in media, all that has gone on in media for centuries. The caveman who painted a mural of his next wild bison feast inviting fellow cavemen was creating a piece of engagement.

This is why, while everyone gets excited about it, no standard definition exists. Perhaps more importantly, the powers that be do not possess enough tech savvy to integrate the different pieces of the jigsaw to create a unified picture of consumer experiences with their brand.

Media planning still happens in a columnar fashion: we have columns of different media (tv, OOH, radio, print, banners) and each column gets a slice. Very, very few planners deserve the "strategic" in their titles to actually pan out the different journeys their consumers could potentially take with their brand.

As a small example, I saw a fascinating ad for the Bravia LCD televisions from Sony (the exploding colors on a building thing). Sony's agency --perhaps Dentsu?--must have spent a healthy packet on producing that piece. So I land in the store, where I find Pioneer's classy Plasma televisions displayed with much more vigor. Outside the mall was a Pioneer ad. The salesman in the store was very persuasive about the wonders of Plasma and how it is THE thing I needed to own if I had a noodle or two in my head. What did I end up with? Pioneer. Sony's media planners must have wracked their brains and emptied their pockets creating a pretty interesting piece of "engagement" in one form of media, but they did not understand the consumer's touchpoints with their brand, and in fact ended up advertising for the category. The in-store marketing channel, which is where "moments of truth" take place, needed more focus, but this was perhaps not in their gamut of engagement.

That's for making engagement happen. As you can tell, nothing new there; old wine in a new label. Common sense, more like.

But measuring engagement is an even more dilapidated beast. Is there one product that allows us to bring these different metrics, methodologies, approaches into one (or unified) platform? I still have to see standardization within only one media group -- "digital" -- let alone the integration of different media. Products like MCA are rickety attempts at arriving at some semblance of this with conjoint-based surveys, but they're hardly a convincing implementation.

In sum, the problem is not with the term. It's quite a useful term, perhaps more meaningful than the other expression being bandied about in the Web 2.0 communities: "Attention", but it's in the implementation of engagement strategies that the proof lies. When you scratch beneath the surface, you notice it's a word that gives advertising suits to go to their clients and sell a new song.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

engagement like many here have noted is a slippery concept that in final analysis must be viewed, understood and actioned against the customer's definitional standard

for some - engagement is simply eye candy
take a familiar thing and present it in a new way - to create some type of higher level short-term interaction/'engagement', hopefully long enough and at the right moment to trigger/complete a commercial transaction (ie advertising, experience/field interactions, promotions etc..)

but 'true' engagement is much harder and more elusive because it requires a deeper level of commitment and desire to maintain interest and support of the relationship - and consequently difficult for brands to do since they tend to be more narrowly interactively defined than humans (for example)

So not unlike a human interaction - we have one night stands and we have lasting relationships/marriages. The former at the right time and place might do the job, but the latter is more complete.


4:23 AM  

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