LONDON: The Brand Engagement Survey carried out for the UK Internet Advertising Bureau claims that online advertising generates greater 'brand engagement' for retailers than any other medium.

Amid a general assumption that brand engagement has to be a 'Good Thing', there are differing views as to what the latest buzz-term actually means. They  range from veneration to bamboozlement.

But according to Steve Rubel, svp/director of insights at Edelman Digital: "Brand engagement is a myth, like Bigfoot"
Despite this dismissal, however, the US Advertising Research Foundation's definition is generally accepted for want of anything better: "Engagement is turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context." 

Which provides a reference point of sorts for the IAB study's conclusion that, for retail brands, online advertising delivers 40% of total brand engagement.

Way ahead of 31% for press and an eyebrow-raisingly disappointing 19% for TV.

The survey, implemented for the IAB by Aegis research unit aevolve, indicates that average online adspend for five major UK retail chains (Debenhams, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next and Woolworths) amounted to just 2.5% of their total media budgets during the first six months of the year.

Relating that statistic to the brand engagement data, the IAB concludes that online advertising is some sixteen times more effective than the retailers' monetary investment might suggest.

The research examined thirty-eight different ads across online, press, TV, outdoor and radio, noting the reactions of 1,024 women, in the 30-50 age range, who had shopped at three or more of the five retailers in the past six months.

Aevolve director Mary Jefferies comments that the study shows how retailers need to integrate instore, online and communications experiences.

As Diaghilev reputedly challenged Jean Cocteau: "Astonish me."

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff