A New Consumer Metric: The Engagement Index

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Here are few of the key elements that any version of such an index should include:

• Registrations. Both the number and type of registrations would be useful information for advertisers to have. Paid or unpaid, professional or personal, category, etc. Collecting and rendering this information anonymous would require a great deal of carefully orchestrated effort, but the rewards would be enormous.

• Emailing activities. The number of email accounts, volume of in/out email, click- through rates, use of spam blocking programs and other metrics.

• Interactions. There are many types of interactions that can be classified, from simple search to ecommerce purchases, sharing links, community site postings, participating in viral programs, etc.

• Blogging/PodCasting. Active participation and sharing of personal blogs, podcasts, videocasts, etc.

• Bookmarking. Overlooked in terms of marketing importance, the number and categories of bookmarked sites are a direct window in the consumers’ mind.

• Website Ownership. Many savvy users have multiple websites for showcasing their personal interests, from promoting non-profits to showing their kid’s awards.

• Advertising Receptivity. The use of pop-up blockers, presence of installed toolbars, the percentage of ad interaction, viral pass-along (such as the success with the Burger King Subservient Chicken). These are just a few of indicators of receptivity of online advertising.

• Total Time Interacting (TTI). I would posit that the total time a person spends online, especially compared to consumption of other media, is one of the key indicators of an especially high-indexing user in any category.
I’m sure there are other elements that would complete the Engagement Index that I haven’t included. But just imagine how incredibly valuable it would be to a marketer or advertiser if they could look at the Engagement Index of a site and compare it to competitive sites. Having a metric like TTI would give a whole new meaning to time spent on a site, if it turned out that the percentage of total daily time online was proportionally higher for one site over another, where they both have a similar unique user number. Similarly, if one site also had a higher number of website owners and bloggers, it could help direct the marketing to those users in a number of new ways using different venues.

Of course, all of this information for any single user would be very difficult to gather without their active participation and agreement. But many special interest websites have a core of users who will gladly participate, if it helps to advance that particular interest. And some of this information could be consolidated from different sources to produce statistically accurate profiling. After all, Nielsen/NetRatings and comScore MediaMetrix have been doing just that for years with panel-based research.

So who will be the first to step up to the plate and create a platform that will measure the heart of the online market using this Engagement index? There are already a number of companies out there looking to set standards. And if you keep reading this column, you’ll be the first to know when it happens in earnest.


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