Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Is Engagement About How Many? Or, How Long?

Now that Nielsen is promising to start delivering their commercial ratings by end of month, commercial engagement, has, not surprisingly, become a hot topic. What's interesting is how engagement means different things to different people - depending on whether they make their living on the intrusive or opt-in side of the screen.

From the linear networks/programmers' perspective, engagement is still about how many. After all, the intrusive marketplace makes its money by selling impressions. Yet, whether a viewer was even in the room when the commercial aired, much less paid any attention to the commercial itself, is of little importance to whether or not the networks make money.

It's different on the opt-in, on-demand side of the screen. Yes, on-demand started by selling impressions as well. After all, that's all anyone knew so that's all anyone did.

But as advertisers have become aware that second-by-second data is available on digital platforms, there's been a mindchange taking place. Rather than how many, advertisers are now starting to become interested in how long a viewer engaged in their message for.

There are two reasons for this.

The most obvious is creative optimization. If advertisers find that viewers are opting-out at a certain point, they can tweak the advertising at that point in an attempt to make it better. Second-by-second data enables this to happen.

The less obvious reason is financial optimization.

Anything that can be measured can be monetized. As second-by-second data is now measurable, time spent with a commercial message will soon be monetized. Which means advertisers will soon be able to pay their creative agencies for their efforts based on how long their commercial engaged the viewer.

It only makes sense that the more time spent with a message the more valuable that message is to the advertiser. So, the more they should be willing to pay their agency that created it.

The opposite will also need to hold true.

The interesting thing is that as time spent increases in importance, impressions will decrease in importance on digital platforms. The fact is, you can't have both on the same platform.

Advertisers will need to choose.

Impressions or time spent? How many or how long?

I know which one I'd take.

Do you?

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