It seems not a day passes without some news somewhere about the world of digital, especially when it comes to brands. The news report usually starts with words like "a recent survey of digital users found…" Well, you get the point. Those who "participate in the space," as marketers say, are being asked to account for what they are doing. And who they are, so that maybe brands can figure out how to talk to them, or why they use this or that, and on and on.

The problem with these strategies – and it's a big one, we're afraid – is what's missing. It fails to answer how digital truly connects to how the category itself works. In short, it fails to give guidance to brands on how to be strategic in the digital space, not simply participate.

Simply knowing what digital platforms people are using does not tell a brand how that platform can best be leveraged for the brand. For that, the platform must be linked to the emotional and rational aspects that drive consumer engagement with the category itself. Because every category is different. And it also must be understood exactly how high digital involvement changes the way a consumer looks at the category, because that too is different.

Digital usage studies have remained in a silo, separate from how consumers engage with and choose among category brands. And that approach is far too limited.

To answer these questions and more, we are debuting the Digital Platform Engagement Index – the DPEI – the first-ever addition to our annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, now in its 16th year.

This unique approach to understanding what's behind consumers' engagement with digital platforms – in over 80 categories – will be available in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you'd like to actually hear more about it, we invite you to listen to an actual case study from our "What Happened?" series.

We feel the time has come to really answer the question for brands of what to do with digital. Watch this space, as they say, for more as we continue to insist that the easy questions are usually not the ones really worth answering.