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

Monday, October 01, 2007

Exit Engagement

An item in today's Advertising Age tells of Joe Plummer's exit as the Advertising Research Foundation's Chief Research Officer. Plummer was a big (if not the biggest) advocate of the concept of "engagement" and had led a long and large effort to find some universal metric for it.

"Engagement" was a big buzzword, as the article notes, back in 2006, and it was only a buzzword in my opinion, empty of any meaning, which is why the definition of any advertising industry-wide metric eluded Plummer and the ARF.

To find any metric one must consider the process one want to measure. Are there any universal cross-advertising processes? Well, there's exposure to the ad, and there's attending to the ad. Exposure is pretty easy to measure, and in addition doesn't depend on the advertisement's content. Attention is rather harder to measure, and certainly seems to be dependent on the content of the ad. But what process was supposed to be captured by the concept of engagement? Something like the response of the customer exposed to the ad. Was this response just clicking on a web ad, or going to the store and putting down money? And engagement was supposed to be independent of content, and specific only to the medium.

Beyond exposure, different ads work (when they work) in different ways, with different processes. The metric that works for one process may not work for another. The search for a universal "engagement" metric is futile. I hope it's over.

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