Features

Engagement Media Has Landed

Written on
Nov 19, 2010 
Author
Michael Sippey  |

moon_smallADOTAS – Digital media has finally become an effective way for brands to reach consumers and brands have done this by embedding advertising within engaging online content and turning their ads into content itself.

For the past 10 years, many brands looked at online as “just another channel.” They repurposed and reformatted their existing campaigns, then scheduled and delivered them through standard IAB ad units.

And guess what happened? Consumers ignored them.

But just as search evolved to a place where direct-response marketing became effective on the web (thanks to Google), digital media too has evolved to a place where brand advertising is now effective. How did this happen? In an on-demand, always-in-your-pocket media world in which attention is scarce, how are brands breaking through online?

Enter Engagement Media

Engagement media is the result of passion, platforms and distribution. And it represents new opportunities for brands that understand it and leverage the influence it has with consumers.

Engagement media is the result of passion. Thanks to a nearly infinite supply of content creators and a marginal cost of creating media that continues its relentless asymptotic march to $0.00, we’ve had gobs of news sites, blogs and specialty content outlets for a while.

What makes engagement media different now is the explosion of platforms. It’s not just about blogs and simple websites but now technology is making it easier and cheaper for creators to use additional modes of expression like video, mobile and tablet apps, games, location-based services, etc. Today’s creators have HD video production and distribution capabilities literally in their pockets, and can hook into free, viral ways to reach millions of people immediately.

Which brings us to new modes of distribution. The rise and mass adoption of social networks means that there are new modes of information discovery. In the early days of the Internet, discovery happened through centralized portals (Excite, Yahoo, etc.) that by definition had limited inventory for promoting and sharing new sources of content.

Google and efficient search eliminated the problem of limited shelf space, but created a new limitation: you need to know what you’re looking for before you search for it.

Facebook and Twitter don’t displace editorial curation or search, but add a new mode — recommendations and links from friends, family and other trusted sources — that can spark viral distribution and mass awareness.

So: Passion + Platforms + Distribution = a new landscape for media, and new opportunities for brands that understand how to create and leverage engagement media.

Now that we know what helped create engagement media, what does it look like?

First and foremost, engagement media has a voice and is created by people that are passionate about their area of expertise. They understand their category, care deeply about their audience, and aren’t afraid to demonstrate that passion in their voice what they create. This is about as far away from “content by robots, for robots” as you can get.

It’s rich. Creators of engagement media understand and exploit the new transmedia landscape of text, images, audio, video, apps and games — across screens of every dimension. Engagement media is not stuck in the browser.

It’s fluid. It’s designed to flow not only between devices and screens, but across services and experiences. It understands and adapts to new media discovery and consumption experiences like Flipboard, Techmeme or Imagesoak. It’s not afraid of new distribution channels.

It’s social. Creators understand the new realities of how awareness and distribution happen and optimize their properties for sharing through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and whatever comes next.

It’s smart. Successful creators know how to attract an audience, offer them compelling content and social tools, and keep them coming back for more. And they appreciate the role that advertising plays in supporting media — a role it has long played in various forms — and they’re friendly to brands that are friendly to their efforts.

How can marketers take advantage of engagement media?

Understand it. You’re probably well on your way already, since you’re most likely soaking in it as it is. But we can help you understand what the landscape looks like, who the influential voices are, and how audiences discover and connect with engagement media.

Partner with engagement media creators. Engagement media is where your brand can connect with the audience you’re trying to reach, because it’s where they’re tuning in to the things that they’re passionate about and sharing that with their friends. And it’s not just about ad buys; we can help you partner with leading voices to create integrated experiences that go beyond the banner.

Create engagement media. At its core, compelling brand advertising is great content that tells a great story. Bringing that story to consumers online means transforming it to take advantage of multiple platforms, network distribution and social mechanics.

We’ve been hearing about the promise of digital media for more than 10 years; but now it is for real. We know where the audience is and we know how to reach them successfully.





Michael Sippey is VP of Artist Development at SAY Media; before the merger of VideoEgg and SixApart, he served as VP of Corporate Development at Six Apart. He is responsible for new market development, key account relationships, business development and corporate and product strategy.

Before joining Six Apart, Michael was part of the founding management team at email services agency Quris, led engagements at the Internet consulting firm Viant and managed market data and transaction download systems at Advent Software. He launched the pioneering blog “Stating the Obvious” in 1995, and blogs today at sippey.com.

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