Posted on May 21, 2014 by steveroy44
Engagement means many things to many people. Probably too many things in the publishing and advertising worlds. So this week in New York City, we hosted an event at City Winery that brought together some of the best minds from the industry to unpack the hyperbole and load up on straight talk. The question we wanted to answer was: do we measure what matters? This is a recap of the discussions we convened.
Voices from the Park
How many conferences and many more articles about measuring content success ever include the views of actual readers? Few to none. So the week before our event, we hit the streets of New York City asking people, “What does engagement mean to you?” Here’s what they had to say, and how we started off the morning. (Warning: unscripted and 100% organic cat pic reference included.)
“Paywalls Are the Opposite of Engagement”
We were fortunate to then feature a lively Q&A between Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Mashable’s Christina Warren. In a wide ranging discussion, Fred expressed an unambiguous view that “paywalls are the opposite of engagement” and stressed the need for publishers to foster sharing and commenting.
Six in Under 60
The centerpiece of our event featured six lightning talks from industry leaders who are doing engagement right. Each speaker was given no more than 10 minutes to present a case study, impactful insight or brief story about how their organization is learning to respond to the content needs of audiences and customers.
A quick rundown:
Ro Gupta of Disqus shared some history of how we’ve evolved our ad and core product metrics to include time spent as a true measure of user value. (Did you know that every month, Disqus captures a trillion seconds of attention through online discussion?)
Jacqui Maher of The New York Times talked about backing up journalistic intuition with data and how the Times looks at repeat visits as a key success metric.
Romy Newman head of digital advertising for The Wall Street Journal shared a case in point that demonstrated how clicks don’t measure the full value of advertising content, especially when a brand marketer is looking to build awareness or communicate an idea.
Hilary Parker of Etsy gave a talk focused on what Etsy has learned through A/B testing, stressing the importance of informed experimenting to increase user engagement and conversions.
Don Steele who heads up fan engagement at Comedy Central presented his “Anatomy of a Conversation” about how real communication with real fans has fostered the growth of the Comedy Central community.
Time Spent and Premium Audiences Are Not Mutually Exclusive
To close out the morning, I moderated a discussion with Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat and Jay Lauf, the publisher of Quartz. Quartz has very effectively positioned itself as a high-end business intelligence brand where the advertiser proposition is about reaching a premium, executive-level audience. Chartbeat has popularized the notion that publishers should be looking to monetize time spent reading in alignment with the way marketers buy time on TV and other media platforms.
So I teed up a central question. What matters more: who is reading or how much time is spent reading? (Spoiler alert: both.) Check out the discussion for yourself.
Thanks to all our speakers and please share your thoughts and questions below.
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