Intuitively, it makes sense that if a consumer engages with a brand’s ad or marketing message, this should count as a positive outcome. Yet, we’ve spoken to a number of marketers and measurement companies that found that optimizing for engagement ultimately did not help them drive positive business outcomes – instead leading them to waste time and media dollars on the wrong users.


The issue we keep encountering in discussions around engagement is that advertisers count interactions – clicks, shares, likes, comments, views – as proxies for engagement. There’s no clear link between these individual actions and what they are really trying to measure: are their messages moving consumers along their path to purchase, by driving either brand preference or sales?


Tina Moffett and I decided to investigate:


1. How do we define engagement? We see a lot of confusion around various meanings of ‘engagement’. We identified two forms of engagement marketers seek to measure: 1) ‘marketing engagement’, which measures the impact of consumers’ engagement with a given campaign or channel, and 2) ‘consumer engagement’ which encompasses all interactions a brand has with a consumer over time, and measures the health of the customer-relationship. The latter is closer to lifetime value.


2. Is it ever a good idea to optimize for marketing engagement? Some marketers swear by it, others will tell you to never – I repeat never! – optimize against engagement. The answer is relatively straightforward: only optimize against marketing engagement if you are clear that it drive positive business outcomes for your brand.




3. How should you measure engagement? We have identified 3 categories of metrics that help brands build meaningful engagement metric – behaviors, involvement and emotions. In the report we published recently – “Measure Marketing Engagement Right Or Not At All” – we highlight why, what and how to track them. It’s important for brands that decide to measure marketing engagement that they build an engagement metric that maps back to their business objectives, either in terms of brand health or sales.


This is the first of a series of reports we plan to focus on the question of engagement. So let us know how you approach the issue, if you’ve chosen to measure engagement or not, and if you’d like to speak to us for future research!