The Power of Engagement

By Hannah Wallace May 31, 2008

What I find most intriguing about advertising is its unpredictable effectiveness. Blending art with marketing strategy that utilizes research science and consumer psychology is a complex formula that may or may not ignite. Here we have a primary marketing tool that has successfully sold infinite products, grown countless businesses, influenced millions to vote for political candidates and motivated masses to stop smoking, reject drugs and care about worthy causes.

The efficacy of advertising as a marketing element is unquestionable, and its need is essential. But the results of any given campaign are unforeseeable. The challenges inherent in developing and executing a successful ad campaign are quite significant, with far more variables to consider than many nonprofessionals realize. Ad agencies earn every penny of their compensation and should be utilized more than they are by small and medium-sized businesses.

Years ago the toughest ad decisions were arguably the creative ones, but today’s media proliferation and altered consumer lifestyles (including media multitasking) have made media selections at least as critical and demanding. Media that make the cash register ring (the proverbial tangible result of effective local advertising) are obviously good choices. However, the effectiveness of advertising is often visceral and less palpable, with benefits consisting of enhanced awareness, image and positioning.

So how does one achieve these benefits? Putting the creative aside (which is not insignificant), and after studying quantitative and qualitative demo data, a marketer should spend time examining how people consume specific media. How engaged are they with that medium? How much time do they spend with that medium? Media engagement (involvement, connection, resonance, stickiness, experience, desirability and relationship) can be the road to advertising engagement. And advertising engagement is being defined as the new currency for advertising ROI.

It was 15 minutes before the season-opening concert of the Florida West Coast Symphony at Van Wezel. As one of 1,700, I was in my seat eagerly awaiting the maestro’s initial baton movement. The anticipation for an evening of beautiful, stirring music was decidedly in the air. Looking around the large concert hall, I witnessed that the earlier conversations and greetings had been replaced by quieter, personal moments of involvement with the symphony program book. Pages were turned one by one, creating a shared experience that served as a segue to the performance. Seeing audiences engrossed in the book gave me, as its publisher, a sense of fulfillment. I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that we had satisfied our objective of providing our advertisers with a very special kind of media engagement.

Sometimes stickiness is that obvious.

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