The Engagement Debate: Still Unsettled


The one thing that’s certain about advertisement engagement is that…nothing is certain. That’s the big takeaway from today’s VideoEgg Engagement Debate ’08, where marketing folk gathered to discuss the topic. There were four panels, the members of which tried to define engagement, determine effective environments for it, quantify it and of course, figure out how to monetize it. But there was little consensus.


Everyone agrees that engagement is reaching people where they are passionate, creating a connection and getting them to take some kind of action (preferably involving running out and buying the product). After that, things get murky.

Is liking an ad banner that you see a bunch of times — but never click on — engagement? Conversely, is punching the monkey all day engagement if you hate that ad? Engagement can’t just be measured by time spent with an ad or campaign. Someone could watch all 10 minutes of a branded web show and love it, or as Chris George, VP of advertiser solutions for Fox Interactive Media put it, someone could spend 15 minutes in vain trying to upload a UGC Doritos commercial and have a horrible experience.

I realize that this post is just a series of questions, but that’s because even after all that discussion, there are no straight answers. Perhaps Matt Cutler, VP of marketing and analytics at Visible Measures, put it best when he commented that the whole point of a half-day debate event is that there is nothing definitive yet, because if there was, the conference would have lasted all of 15 minutes.

The concept of engagement is just beginning and the industry can build standards from the ground up that learn from the past to create a more, well, engaging future.

(Pictured (from left to right): Me, Steve Mitgang, CEO, Veoh Networks; Mark Spates, Director, Social Media Strategy, VideoEgg; Lars Bastholm, Executive Creative Director, AKQA New York; Quentin George, Global Director of Digital Strategy and Marketing Innovation, Universal McCann)

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