‘Like’ Me – The Era of Engagement

A colleague of mine and I recently had the pleasure of presenting to the entire TechTarget client consulting team about how online advertising has changed over the last 2 decades- ‘Digital Media: 2 Decades of Change’.  The objective was to raise awareness and further educate the team about the evolution of online advertising, understand the various influences that impact the market’s direction and explore new paths of creativity.  Through my research we noticed a common theme or trigger that seemed to be part of the root cause of all these changes and developments of innovative ads and online tools/resources.  The driving force is the very same person reading this blog post.  That’s right, the consumer.

I’m sure you’re thinking, well duh.  But start digging deeper into all the new innovations and realize just how ‘under the consumer influence’ marketers have been and you will really appreciate how far digital media has come in just under 2 decades.   Another key point drawn from our research, is that as online ads continue to evolve at a rapid pace, that it’s important for us as digital marketers to remember that the ‘IT  Pro / Consumer Will Always Be One Step Ahead’.  This notion presents all marketers with the opportunity to push the digital media industry even further in every aspect, from innovative online ads to new online tracking applications (Hootsuite, TweetDeck, etc.) and social sharing abilities (Add This, Share This, etc.) or as one of my colleagues, Ben Bradley, refers to in his recent blog ‘Socializing’.

We’ve already seen adaption of new online tools, such as social widgets, that are used to consume and share information, which has further developed a new breed of digital consumers and brand evangelists. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about ‘Like’ Button Follow Web Users, these widgets not only make it easier “to share content with friends and help attract visitors” , these widgets are a “potentially powerful way to track internet users.”   We’ve gone from a time of CPM, Open Rates, CTR, CPC to the era of CPE, cost per engagement or what is also known as CPA cost per action.

These more robust engagement metrics have allowed marketers to gather what TechTarget identifies as Activity Intelligence and has influenced the way marketers communicate their message and get users to engage with their brand on a new level.  Now in my last blog post, The Power of Customer Intelligence, I discussed leveraging customer intelligence from a high level, so I think it’s time we take it a step further.  What happens when you take the core of customer intelligence (behavior, demographics and basic activity- clicks and downloads) and add it with all this robust rich media engagement activity (time in ad, % viewed, # of tweets or shares)?

You now get a more refined set of marketing programs that are purely focused on user engagement, which provides greater insight into the behaviors and thought processes of a potential buyer or prospect.

Already out in the digital space we are seeing these new programs come to fruition.  You can find examples in the ‘Digital Media: 2 Decades of Change’ presentation, in the Things Your Mother Doesn’t Even Know About section.  These examples showcase three different types of engagement ads that take users beyond the click and immerse them with an interactive brand experience.

Overall, the era of engagement is an exciting place for all marketers to be in.  We’ve already begun to see the influence this new breed of consumers has had on the digital ad space.  And with every innovative interactive ad, comes a new set of metrics that provides marketers with a more robust set of activity intelligence. The combination of the two is pushing marketers to look beyond the click and make us venture onto new paths of creativity.  This will sure be an amazing trip and something tells me we are just scratching the surface of what is yet to come.

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