Digital Sellers Want to Be Held Accountable -- and Paid for It

Pushing Compensation Models Based on Engagement

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NEW YORK ( -- Yes, everyone's still talking about engagement. Two years after the Advertising Research Foundation decided to define an engagement metric -- and a week after ARF appeared to renew efforts -- the discussion has surfaced again: where engagement can be found, how to measure it and whether it should be bought.

Online-ad provider Videoegg took a stab at figuring all that out at an Engagement Debate yesterday at Hard Rock Cafe in New York.

AKQA New York Executive Creative Director Lars Bastholm had advice for marketers trying to create engaging experiences: "Instead of building a site or destination platform, build lots of little things constantly. And maybe not every single thing we use will become a massive hit, but certainly something will down the line."

'A big idea'
Ogilvy Chief Digital Officer J.P. Maheu admitted it's tough to replicate an engaging campaign or project but that it becomes easier and relatively cheaper when done within some sort of larger idea. He used the oft-cited example of Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty."

"The challenge for brands is to have a big idea that will engage the brand and consumers at a deeper level," he said. "It's tough to do, but when you succeed, you have an engagement channel."

As to whether marketers will buy media based on some sort of an engagement metric, well, those at Videoegg hope so. The company introduced such a concept yesterday in a new rich-media product it calls AdFrames -- expandable ads that run within standard Interactive Advertising Bureau ad units -- that pushes the compensation model toward engagement.

Higher rates
The idea, said Chief Marketing Officer Troy Young, is if one site has an interaction or engagement rate of 0.2% and another has a rate of 2%, the publisher delivering the higher rate should get rewarded for that by having the advertiser pay more for the ad.

He said the medium will move toward that kind of accountability system not only because it can be measured (as opposed to more-traditional media, where interaction isn't as hard to measure) but also because there's a ton of inventory. "Advertisers will ... push risk back onto publishers," he said. "There will be a measurable component."

Still, said Adam Gerber, chief marketing officer at web-measurement firm Quantcast, when radio was introduced in the early 1900s, one station trying to snag a package-goods client asked listeners to send postcards to the company telling it to advertise.

"There are examples for last 100 years of engagement in traditional media ... but no media has traded on the metric but direct response, which is really about remnant inventory," he said.
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