Why Measure Engagement?

The formula for engagement: source

It's been years, and I still don't quite understand the obsession with measuring site engagement at any cost.

I'm puzzled by the stuff like "engagement is an estimate of the degree and depth of visitor interaction on the site against a clearly defined set of goals." My question is why.  So, you do all the calculations and come up with a number, and what do you do next? Try to increase it?  Why?

To me, the two metrics that ultimately matter are:

1. How many people performed a desired action (aka "conversion rate", which often implies but doesn't have to be sales or email sign-ups -- it can be any targeted action.)

2. How many people remember what I want them to remember for a certain period of time (aka "branding"). Under the current and mercilessly simplified ad theory, recall is influenced by frequency and length of exposure as well as the message's emotional impact.  Designing for and measuring the emotional effect might still be more qual than quant, but frequency and length is pretty straightforward, especially online.
 One definition of engagement  this model fits is Innerscope's "engagement = attention * emotion", and I'm fine with that since here engagement is an indicator of recall and not an end in itself.


  1. Nice boil down. It repurposes the thought I picked up from a GM (of all companies) dude that good advertsing makes you "feel something then do something." Quite simple really.

  2. I think you are spot on with this and truly believe that engagement was a buzzword created by media buyers so they could better sell digital to clients.

    The only thing I would say in engagement measurements defense would be that getting someone to spend time with your brand would seemingly improve recall and perhaps be a kpi of loyalty and advocacy for the brand.

    I think whats important is how you set up and measure it. Having a 4 minute video on your site doesn't equate to 4 minutes of loyalty or brand interest, just means a consumer watched a longish video.

    Engagement is right, but our methods are sometimes messed up.


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