Engagement: are we there yet?

Rebecca Rangeley

Anne Mollen
Cranfield School of Management

Can engagement be reliably measured? Are certain types of people inherently more likely to engage?

Although online display advertising may be undergoing a resurgence, content publishers, like UK pay-TV giant BSkyB, are still subject to considerable trading challenges. Content sites are squeezed on the one hand by the increasingly sophisticated commoditised offerings of ad networks and demand supply platforms, and on the other, by the encroachment of social media sites into the display advertising market.

This encroachment is made more formidable not merely by social media's reach and increasing centrality in everyday life, but by the nature of its audience – internet 'activists' who are perceived to be more 'engaged' and, therefore, more 'loyal' and, by implication, more responsive to advertising. Such thinking has fuelled a significant advertising shift: the Internet Advertising Bureau UK ad revenue figures (H1 2011) show that, while online ad spend had increased by 14% year on year against a media industry increase of 1.4%, social media spend had increased by an estimated 60%. In the US, Facebook is now the market leader in online display advertising, commanding a 28% share (ComScore).