I’ve had some bad luck with connecting to the web lately, trying to catch up on blog posts as the latest trip winds down.
The panel on Engagement at the WebTrends customer meeting was a lot of fun, probably best described as “productive friction” if forced to describe it with a phrase.
Based on comments from the audience, the panel was quite useful in terms of vetting some of the ideas floating around out there and answering their burning question, “Am I missing something here? Why should I care about this engagement thing?”
This in itself is an interesting issue: generally, the audience perceives “engagement” as yet another buzzword of the week that like most buzzwords, is simply another word for stuff most of the audience deals with all the time, namely customer service and retention – or customer “experience” if you prefer last week’s buzzword. This was the insight I gained from the well-lubricated crowd at the party after the panel, so please take this fact into account as well. Do people tend to say what they really think after a few drinks? Or were they just tired of talking about web analytics the whole day?
Some of the more interesting discussion among the panelists actually took place right before and after the panel, when we had a chance to really first explain our positions and then challenge each other to defend them. Great conversation.
For what it’s worth, here’s a breakdown of what I thought I heard being said. My perception and reality may of course be different and I encourage participants to correct any misperceptions I may have had…
Andy Beal – as the only “generalist” on the panel, I think Andy was a bit steamrolled by the hard core “get the facts” thing web analytics folks do. He maintained web analytics could measure only one area of customer engagement with a company (the web), and that you would never get the full picture of engagement because some of it is unmeasurable. Probably true in a strict sense, though I bet there’s a lot that can be measured on the web through customer conversations and so forth. However, we left this “can’t be measured” question to simmer, because the rest of the panel and the audience wanted to talk about web analytics so that was what we were going to do.
Anil Batra / Myself – I’ll go out on a limb and say our positions were very similar; I’m sure Anil will chime in. Basically, the formula is this:
The difference between Measuring Activity and Measuring Engagement is Prediction.
In other words, when you start using the word Engagement, you are implying “expected” activity in the future, with this expectation or likelihood being valued or scored with a prediction of some kind. Activity without an implication of continuity is simply Activity, it’s history and stands alone. Same stuff web analytics has always done, nothing new.
Jim Sterne – Jim was a bit more global in his thinking as you might expect, and seemed to be concerned more about how Engagement fits into the greater Marketing picture rather than looking to hang parameters on it. How Engagement is related to Customer experience and Brand, how it does or does not turn into Loyalty, and so forth.
Gary Angel / Manoj Jasra – not sure either of these fine folks fully buy into the “prediction” requirement Anil and I support, though they might be talked into it. Gary and I had a long conversion which included June Dershewitz after the panel, where we traded examples and generally wrestled over what I would call the “advertising / duration conundrum”.
I maintain advertising is an outlier in this discussion, which is strange since those folks basically started this whole engagement thing and stoked the fire hard with the Duration variable that got web analytics folks in general so pissed off. Not sure Gary or Manoj will ever accept Duration in any form as a measure of Engagement, where I maintain that if you isolate Advertising as a unique conversation, it makes a lot of sense. The reality of buying online display ads is you need an absolute standard or the networks and buying process absolutely fall apart; you simply cannot look at a unique Engagement metric for every site or the buy would never get done. So you hold your nose, say Duration is important to advertising as a metric, and do the deal.
In other words, there is a huge difference between being Engaged with a site and being Engaged with an ad on the same site. These are two completely different ideas and unless you believe that Engagement with a site always spills over to Engagement with the ads on the site (I do not) then these two ideas deserve two different treatments.
June wanted to get into it all over again at the eMetrics Summit…feel free to post your comments here June!Follow: