How engagement measurement will change the world

Jan. 25, 2010 | by Antony Mayfield

iCrossing: NMAlive presentation on engagement measurement

Last Friday I presented at the NMAlive event* on Online Engagement Demysitified event, running with the hopeful title “How Engagement Measurement Will Change the World” (see slides above).

As ever, it was a good opportunity to revisit the theme of engagement measurement and think about how we talk about it at iCrossing.

We’ve effectively spent the last four years looking at how you quantify and understand the concept of engagement. It’s only with evidence and actionable analysis that the idea of connected brands, organisations in touch and in dialogue with with their customers and stakeholders online becomes real.

Evaluating engagement has become increasing sophisticated. Right now the social media analysts in the UK are re-mixing the whole idea of search and social media data as a research discipline in incredibly exciting ways for clients as diverse as banks and soft drinks brands. Our work in this area has been profiled in two Forrester case studies on our projects for Channel 4 and Toyota.

The technology has moved at an incredible rate too. We started with social network analysis visualisation and a lot of manual work on collating data. Over time the expertise of out technical department, performance insight experts and insights from our journalist team have all been fed into new approaches to using our own tools and those of technology platforms like Brandwatch and Buzzmetrics. We remain open-minded as the the best technology and metrics mix for any particular campaign or brand.

What has remained a constant though for the past two years or so, is the basic framework that we use when developing an evaluation, iCrossing’s Framework for Measuring Evaluation (see diagram).


Three things we have learned about evaluating engagement are:

  1. It can drive creative: Good evaluation of engagement delivers data and insight that constitute “live research”, which in turn – with the right processes and platforms in places – allows “live creative”, creative played out in an agile way, responding to how content is being received and re-used. It was this realisation that allowed an insight from web analytics to inspire the hyper-miling creative in the Toyota iQ campaign which was the outstanding success in that project.
  2. User-centred perspective is key: Measurement mentality is shaped still by the channel media world we come from. The emphasis is too often on simply the brand’s and its marketing messages’ “impact” or “penetration” of target consumers. Colleagues from iCrossing’s user experience team have ensured that user behaviours and how they change during engagement have remained our focus in developing measurement approaches for engagement. This has also meant that we have been able to step out of the sales-funnel model of measuring (which ends with a sale) and create a model in which a purchase is an elevated but not always the ultimate form of engagement.
  3. Stories+numbers: “Stories and numbers” have become a mantra for us over the past couple of years. It helps us to remember that both are equally important to meaningful measurement. Numbers without stories don’t travel far in organisations, don’t affect change, inspire action, without stories that make the meaning easy for people to grasp and communicate to others.

This last point gives us the justification for the title. As Alan Moore put it, “social data is the black gold of the 21st century” and it is engagement evaluation where we are closest to unlocking the value of this data to organisations. The insights and data (stories and numbers) that are being created need to travel further in organisations than the marketing and PR functions. They are so valuable that they create the business case for wiring organisations differently, having the connections between “departments” like PR and customer care stronger, the lines between “divisions” blurred and eroded.

Being able to understand and act on engagement data will change how brands – and more broadly all organisations – function.

* If you’re not familiar NMAlive’s a particularly useful format for speakers and delegates alike. Here’s what I like about it:

  • Concise and well -priced: The events are on a Friday for the morning only – it’s easy to justify a morning out of the office.
  • Short-lead time: Events tend to be organised about six weeks out, which means the topic is fresh – in this instance related to big brands using Cost Per Engagement (CPE) as a means of setting payment for publishers.
  • Mix of people: It seemed all parts of the media/marketing complex were represented well: clients, agencies, media owners and obeservers. It makes for interesting, direct discussion (as does the size – about 100 people max).

It’s a winning formula I’d hope to see emulated by other publishers / event-organisers.

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    Comments (2)

    • LC

    • Mark Hanson

      "Numbers without stories don’t travel far in organisations, don’t affect change, inspire action, without stories that make the meaning easy for people to grasp and communicate to others."

      Perfect. You've captured all those discussions in one sentence.

      Jan 26, 2010 12:45 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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