A Long Engagement: Why the debate about engagement metrics misses the point

Jennifer Taylor


The debate about whether particular media, vehicles or advertising message types are more engaging is not new. Much of the research that provides the foundation in this area was conducted in the 1980s (Newstead, Reynolds, and Riebe, 2009)— but there is a renewed vigour in the search for understanding what engagement is, how to measure it, and how reaching an audience that is more engaged can be beneficial for advertising. The relatively recent addition of social media to the media landscape has increased both interest in and confusion with the term engagement. The assumption is often made that the newfound level of interaction with a brands messages is (without qualification or empirical support) both inherently engaging and beneficial for a brand. Reflecting the complexity of this discussion on engagement, notable media writer Erwin Ephron says,