Marketing Decisions

The blog of LHL Partners, LLC. The blogger is (often) Rick Lightburn, Chief Knowledge Officer of LHL Partners, with his observations about marketing. Our main page is at

Friday, June 30, 2006

Engagement and CGM


The media agency OMD, one of the agencies of Omnicom, released (on June 25th) a study on 'Engagement.' The press release is online at here and here. It's blogged here.
Not to be outdone, Group M, the WPP group of media agencies, announced its new tool to work with engagement here (on June 27th).
An earlier study, by the newspaper industry, is here. No doubt there have been others, and there will certainly be more.

'Engagement' emerged as a buzz-word after last year's ANA Marketing Accountability Forum. The ANA (Association of National Advertisers), the AAAA (American Association of Advertising Agencies) and ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) shortly before that meeting reached some sort of agreement that 'engagement' would be the new metric instead of CPM -- or cost per thousand impressions. They later had to back away from this, when multiple definitions of 'engagement' emerged.

What's the point of all of this? Somehow, the idea is to separate the medium from the message. The impact of an advertisement in this theory is a result of the 'engagement' that the medium has with the 'consumer.' 'Engagement' can somehow be measured separately for each medium, it is proposed, independently of the message and the 'consumer.'

Maybe I'm missing something, but this doesn't make a great deal of sense. Not only does it make little sense to separate the message from the medium -- some messages will be about products, services, or events will be substantially more engaging than others, no matter what the medium such a message appears in -- but some 'consumers' will be more 'engage-able,' -- so it doesn't make sense to separate the 'consumer' from the equation.

This is reflected in the conundrum of what to call the one with whom the advertisement might engage: 'viewer' or 'user' or 'consumer' or 'reader.'


Another buzzword is 'CGM,' which stands for "Consumer-Generated Media." The development of things like blogs, wikis, and RSS feeds is a huge shift in communication, and can be potentially powerful tools in marketing. But for these things to realize their potential, two things need to happen:
[1] They can't be called by an acronym. Acronyms exclude outsiders, who in this case are non-computer literate. For "Consumer-Generated Media" to have sufficient acceptance, it's gotta have a more inclusive moniker.
[2] The name can't have 'consumer.' Yeah, it's 'consumer' that's why they're interesting to ad agencies and advertisers. But the person generating that content on a medium doesn't think of him- or herself as a 'consumer.'
(I think we ought to call them blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, or whatever.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ROI on Advertising Awards?

There's a cover article on the June 12 issue of Advertising Age which pretends to analyze the connection between winning awards and growth. Here's the gist:
Ad Age compared the most-awarded networks, as ranked by Creativity magazine -- which produces an annual weighted table of the results that recognizes the greater value of certain gongs -- to new-business performance, to see whether there was any relationship between all that glitters and clients' pots of gold.

This analysis certainly seems flawed to me.

First of all, I'd want to see the connection between the award and the CLIENT's results and ROI. Show me an agency whose clients have flat to declining sales revenues, and I'll show you a financially challenged agency (if not now, then soon.)

Second, the analysis doesn't even pass a statistical 'sniff' test: sure, there's a correllation between awards and an agency's growth, but maybe causality is in the other direction -- a growing agency hires hot new talent, who go out and wins awards.

As an agency consultant observes in the article, "Does winning awards influence new business decisions? I think not." And an agency president notes, "Our clients ... never care about award shows."