Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Engagement Mapping: a fairer distribution of ad dollars

Microsoft has come up with a real challenge to google adsense. It's not a new kind of advertising, it's a new kind of measurement and one which is likely to appeal to anyone in the business of branded advertising and content creation.

'Engagement Mapping' is a well-informed punt at the kind of redistribution of value in the supply chain of advertising so many have called for. It goes into beta on March 1.

Mike Teasdale - planning director at Harvest spoke about the need for something like this at the NetImperative publishing seminar I spoke at in November 2007.

Google (and their ilk) gets the lions share of the CPA (cost per acquisition) cake because the final click is most often from search.

That doesn't seem fair because it's not giving enough value back to the creators of the demand. You don't go searching for something you don't already want. Content creators/hosts are doing the job of creating desire.

Example: User sees an in-context and related banner ad. What we do next is... very often not click it. This may well be because we feel interrupted, irritated or whatever. This doesn't much matter to Mike's case. What does, is that the ad has planted an idea in the user's mind. It may have seeded the demand and it has been displayed in a context in which the user was susceptible to that demand.

So there is no click-thru record of me 'responding'. But I do actually respond to it and I am more prepared to part with cash as a result.

More often than not I'll do a search around the terms the combination of ad and content has planted in my mind and do this because I want to do some comparisons - and perhaps because I don't trust one single ad when I can go comparing and do some consideration with communities I trust.

But despite all that - the combination of content and ad has had a large influence on a deal getting done.

Could Microsoft's new tech share out the revenues in both a measurable and reasonable way?

Microsoft says: "Engagement Mapping takes into account for the first time all the various online touchpoints and interactions a consumer experiences before an eventual sale."
“...The ‘last ad clicked’ is an outdated and flawed approach because it essentially ignores all prior interactions the consumer has with a marketer’s message,” said Brian McAndrews, senior vice president of the Advertiser & Publisher Solutions (APS) Division at Microsoft.

“Our Engagement Mapping approach conveys how each ad exposure
whether display, rich media or search, seen multiple times on multiple sites and across many channels influenced an eventual purchase. We believe it represents a quantum leap for advertisers and publishers who are seeking to maximize their online spends.”

Can Microsoft's new system ascribe the right proportion of value (and how do you measure what is right?) to the editorial article that made you think you wanted a holiday, or the next one that made you think you wanted a particular type of holiday, or the next one which made you think you wanted to go to a particular location etc etc.

IF advertising were content and content were advertising we would have a complete (and worthy of the name) engagement model. But I get the sense that Engagement Mapping will only ascribe value to interactions (views and clicks I guess) with traditional-style ads (of the kind that don't fit the networked world, as I discussed here).

I'm not even sure if it has a way of adding in the 'engagement' users have with marketing widgets.

There appears no sign of treating 'content' in the same way as advertising - eg ascribing (and paying) a value to this here blog post because it's made you want to go off and sign up to try Engagement Mapping.

If I'm wrong about that Microsoft, my apologies... I imagine the cheque is in the post?


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?