Engagement: The True Currency


Skillful marketers say that engagement, not just profit, is the real measure of success.

Despite rumors to the contrary, marketers are constantly attempting to measure success. They want to know their return on investment; they vie to gauge return on ad spend; they're continually measuring KPIs, such as revenue, customer acquisition, and attrition rates. And it's for good reason. Marketers' initiatives are often linked to whether a brand's sales efforts are working—and when they're not.

However, a group of outspoken marketers are challenging that traditional point of view. During a discussion at Advertising Week, “Engagement: The New Currency,” panelists said that engagement, not solely profit and KPIs linked to revenue, is the true currency that consumers use to show their genuine interest and affinity. The group said that indeed it's the attention that shoppers spend on a brand and its products or services that's worth its weight in pure gold.

The diverse panel included marketing executives from ad agencies to those for music promoters. Here are some of the more poignant suggestions, thoughts, and words of advice that the panel had to share.

“Reach is always important. You typically want to get your product in mass. But you always want engagement. And you want to engage [with your audience] in different ways. Create those moments that matter to the customer.”—Tamara Bousquet SVP, New York media capability lead, DigitasLBi

“The value [of content] is in finding opportunity to engage with customers. Find the customers who matter [to your business]. Those are the people who will share and be evangelists. Then, a lot of the reach work will be done for you.”—John Hollywood, managing director, Zeno Group New York.

“Engagement is defined differently for every brand. It's defined by the company with what [marketers] want to accomplish; it's defined by the audience by what is meaningful to them.”— Katie Redlien, senior brand manager, Bacardi USA

“Brands have been trying to engage from the beginning of time. But nowadays, it's more about identifying those KPIs. Just make sure not to take the creativity out of it. Push to find better ways to measure engagement.”— Tiffany Winter, senior director, business development and strategic partnerships, Mindshare Entertainment, North America

“We [as marketers] so often focus and talk about our brands. But remember, our brands exist for them, [the customers]. If your brand doesn't center on the customer, then something is wrong.”—John Hollywood

“If you want engagement, just create something that resonates. Make the story real. That's how you drive engagement.”—Dan Kruchkow, CMO and head of digital strategy, Crush Music Media Management

“Advocation is important. We [at DigitasLBi] use advocates to drive engagement. And word of mouth is still the most important; it's the most influential measurement of engagement.”—Tamara Bousquet

“People want brands that they love. Create opportunities to choose your brand, to engage with your brand, and to take action on. Then they'll remember your name.”— John Hollywood

“Content is an authentic way to communicate, especially with millennials. It touches passion points. You're getting them engaged in what they feel passionate about and are most involved in.”— Katie Redlien