This is Part II of a two-part series. Missed Part I?
At CredSpark, we’re reimagining audience engagement, measurement, and activation to meet the challenges of the urgently needed changes occurring to the current digital landscape (which we outlined in Part I of this series).
We’ve created a new framework that views audience engagement through both a quantitative and a qualitative lens, with relevance and value as the core outcomes for your audience.
The CredSpark approach engages individual audience members at scale with immersive, personalized experiences that combine interactive content with conversation. These experiences deliver real-time, first-party data—just in a more natural, human-centered experience that delivers relevance and value in return—much like the give-and-take of chatting in person.
This new framework adds a new dimension to the current one-way, 20th century broadcast style of much of today’s digital content and advertising, and it puts shared value and consent at the center of audience interactions and the exchange of data. It levels the playing field between companies, publishers, and advertisers and the individual audience members that they’re trying to reach and serve.
E(x)—or CredSpark Engagement Factor—is a composite of several elements that we use to judge the level and the effectiveness of audience engagement. Unlike the current standard which quantitatively measures engagement by the number of audience actions, E(x) also considers qualitative factors, as well as audience and business outcomes. This more holistic approach puts audience engagement in context with its purpose. We don’t think engagement is just for the sake of engagement. It has to be purposeful, providing the audience with tangible value while delivering on business objectives.
Unlike Time on Page, we view engagement length as how long an audience member actively engages with an experience. We think online experiences should be more tactile and interactive, consistently rewarding users as they make their way through content. This “discovery process” keeps them engaged and encourages them to spend more time with your content, products, and services.
An effective interactive experience should include multiple paths of discovery and content elements for users to explore. We view depth of engagement as measuring and understanding how many of these elements a user spent time engaging with—the percentage of the content experience that was completed.
At CredSpark, we feel that engagement shouldn’t be a “one and done” action. You want your audience to return again and again to interact with what you have to offer. We measure progressive engagement as the number of discrete times a user returns over time to interact with one or more interactive experiences. We view this as a vital element in the collection of first-party audience data as it allows your audience to provide you with valuable data and insights through smaller, more manageable and engaging experiences over a lengthier period of time.
The beauty of compelling interactive experiences is their unparalleled ability to collect valuable data. Appropriately structured and designed experiences deliver far more—and far more accurate—data and insights than traditional registration pages. They make data collection a natural and cohesive part of the user experience—not an intrusive interruption of it. And that higher quality experience keeps your audience engaged and creates new opportunities for additional data such as lead qualification, purchase intent, demographics, user interests, opinion, and more.
Traditional advertising and content experiences are generally built around what the business or advertiser wants the audience member to do. At CredSpark, we start with an audience outcome or expectation and design an experience that delivers on that while integrating business objectives as a cohesive part of the experience. In terms of E(x), we measure how many of the desired “next steps” were taken by the audience in their completion of the interactive experience. We feel strongly that this better aligns audience experience and expectations with goals and objectives of businesses, sponsors, and advertisers.
Ask ten people what audience engagement is and you’ll get ten completely different answers. It’s been so loosely defined by the industry and it’s been the hapless victim of every hot-new-jargon-of-the-week marketing “influencer” across the planet.
As we implement this new model at CredSpark and start socializing it throughout the broader industry, we’re already seeing impressive results and gaining deeper insights into audience behavior. Our interactive experiences that leverage E(x) principles have:
We think this new model for audience engagement can set a standard for the industry. It adds rigor to what has been—to be charitable—a squishy concept without much definition. And with its alignment of business objectives with audience experience and outcomes, it can serve as a model for how a more human-centered, next-generation Internet interacts with the people it’s supposed to serve.
And we think that’s something to get excited about.
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