Media works in terms of “impressions” – the number of people that saw your marketing. It’s measurable, simple, and universally used to compare audience sizes across nearly all types of media.
But impressions give no sense of engagement. And that’s surely what brands should be working towards. Awareness is good – important certainly – but advocacy is the Holy Grail.
Word of mouth, referrals, recommendations, “likes”, comments, shares, re-posts, reviews, reactions and re-interpretations – this is what brands should be measuring. Coca Cola calls them “Expressions”.
Marketers should consider TV advertising as a trailer for the rest of the campaign – a highlights real, a treat, but fundamentally an element that refers to a broader narrative arch for the brand. Through TV advertising, brands point toward a more complete and interactive story, held elsewhere.
Consumers’ experience of a brand stretches ever-more beyond the 30 second advert. Marketers should look towards an engagement strategy measuring expressions, working with a series of creative ideas that are routed through different media channels.
60% of TV viewers use their mobile phones whilst watching the box, 33% have laptops open, and iPad owners spent more the most time in front of their TV, than they do any other simultaneous activity (Source: Business Insider). TV is but a part of the puzzle, and it’s not even close to being the most significant one anymore.
Marketers should place premiums on shows that have a high engagement component – and look to exploiting that. Consider increased location based marketing – as brands push to get stronger ROI from TV investment, these services can track the user all the way to the store as they respond to e.g: Pepsi’s Summer Time commercial at the beach where users can win FourSquare badges. If the advert works, consumers will be engaged.
Of course, there’s always place for passive, especially TV led, marketing. It undoubtedly builds brands on mass scale. But as technologies pinpoint how impressions cause expressions, the result is a network of cause-effect links and an engagement measurement tool. A feedback cycle between mass media and viewers. A way of optimizing impressions with expressions: which shows have the most affinity with target segments; which timeslots or networks lend the strongest response; which ads truly perform better or worse – and in terms of sales, not awareness.
I have been convinced of the power of ”character based” content – sitting somewhere between one of your 500 “friends” on Facebook, and an admired celebrity you think you share values with – by Thoughtful Media. They are championing this engagement-led model, and place huge value on engaging fans not simply serving them with a message. A future of engagement, certainly.
(For more, read Joe Tripodi (Coca Cola Marketing Shifts from Impressions to Expressions), Shiv Singh (TV Ads’ New Digital Role) and Deb Roy (Mass Media’s New Engagement Measure) all at Harvard Business Review. Thank you for inspiring me to talk about this in every single one of my meetings since being introduced to your approach!)