An article over on Adweek this week discussed engagement and its misuse in advertising circles. Since Brand Thunder’s Booms! have engagement as a core value proposition, I immediately found myself on the opposing view side. To be fair, some of the points made have merit – but it’s not necessarily a problem with engagement.
Our custom browser experiences prove valuable because they are engaging. The browser is the most used application on the computer. You wrap that in branding, images, content and functionality and you’ve got a pretty compelling product. You put that in the hands of your loyal audience and you’ve got a powerful engagement tool that’s going to strengthen that connection with the end user.
I don’t see engagement as the problem. For advertisers, though, I can see the problem being where the engagement label is applied. If your user is engaged with a web site, the ads only chance is to interrupt that experience which probably isn’t going to get the response you want (though there are billions of dancing mortgage ads that will argue this point with me).
When engagement is within the site, if you’re not a natural part of the site, your value declines. AOL Instant Messenger never really cracked the ad mystery because the high volume of ads and a user’s intense focus on the application. Engagement with the product is through the roof, but with the ads is horrendous. Brand marketers found their integration points however with avatars and skins and you saw users respond.
To claim engagement isn’t valuable to the advertiser or is overhyped, to me, misses the mark. An advertisers interaction with its end user is incredibly valuable, and that’s engagement. Just don’t expect it when their attention is firmly somewhere else.