Pandora Agency Insights: How Do You Define Engagement And What Does It Mean To You Now?


We’ve been thinking. We do that a lot. We’ve been thinking about engagement. We live in a connected world, where attention is at a premium and the landscape is increasingly cluttered and fragmented. At Pandora, we believe in delivering meaningful engagement at scale through the passion point of personalized music.

But for Advertising Week, we wanted to start a dialogue with industry thought leaders around their ideas of what engagement is and what it’s not. We asked several agency leaders:  The way we measure engagement continues to evolve, how do you define brand engagement? What does it mean to you now?

We got smart, funny and honest answers to a question that’s near and dear to us. Check out the Agency Insights below:

“It has never been easier to reach consumers but never harder to engage them  – that requires relevance. “

Jamie Gutfruend –CMO of Noise

“The shortest answer for me is this: brands must offer something of value to drive engagement.  Value is the currency that brands have (and use) to get people to engage.  I define value in three categories:

  1. Offers (a coupon, a sale, “Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s”)
  2. Content (a video that entertains, an article that informs, a tool that provides clarity)
  3. Experiences (entertainment, information, edutainment, immersive, trial, etc.)
For Unilever, our Dove brand has “Real Beauty” – a great content play.  For Domino’s, our client has an amazing mobile app which, in addition to being a way to drive business, provides a level of interest to the user.  These buckets don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  For instance: American Express created Small Business Saturday, which straddles all 3 categories.  Their Unstaged program falls into categories 2 &3 – although it is used to deliver offers as well.”

 Jordan Bitterman Chief Strategy Officer of MindShare North America

“Engagement is a function of caring; caring and sharing creates engagement at scale”.

Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer at GroupM

I would say that every brand defines engagement differently and it really depends on their desired outcome based on their message or the story they are trying to tell. For some brands, engagement may be time spent with content while for others it may mean their message/content was shared and socialized. For this reason, even the term engagement is getting bashed as overused with increased demand for specificity about what that really means and if it truly leads to success.”

Marla Skikio EVP, Director Digital Innovation at SMG Multicultural

“(on defining engagement) Active participation in a brand’s story/evolution”

“(On what is means to you now) Means the same, but with today’s sophisticated measurement tools, the feedback is more immediate so the dollars/content are better leveraged”

Colin Kinsella CEO –Mindshare North America

“Brand engagement goes beyond a swarm of metrics; it’s about how you’re developing the brand across multiple touch points.”

Kim Thompson, VP Group Client Director, MediaVest

“The best measure of engagement isn’t time spent or return visits or any of the traditional metrics of interruptive advertising; engagement is when a brand creates content compelling enough for audiences to seek out and share.”

Scott Donaton , Global Chief Content Officer UM

“As the rules of modern marketing are constantly being re-imagined, the ways we define and measure ROI have evolved. Today’s ‘always-on’ consumers require brands to move at the pace of modern culture; to genuinely engage these consumers, a brand must be able to grab audience ‘attention’ – a valuable, yet challenging, currency. With the intersection of culture, content and technology, brands must be set-up to deliver truly integrated, real-time experiences that encourage participation and allow for social discovery in both the short and long-term. “

Marla Kaplowitz, CEO, MEC North America

"Brand engagement is when someone takes meaningful action with your brand.  To me it’s definitely more than a click."

Jaclyn Marino, SVP Group Client Director, MediaVest

“Traditional brand engagement —whether it’s generated through conversations, experiences, or advertising — works best when it’s creating and building upon cultural cues. In my experience, a brand can best address critical issues by creating experiences, leveraging the power of culture in a way that cannot be achieved through traditional advertising alone.”

Patience Ramsey, VP of Music and Cultural Experiences, Translation LLC

“It’s a hard question because the bar is shifting so rapidly. In this day and age, the data expectations are so high that they are only limited by our ability to synthesize the learnings quickly and put them into action. And even this is now getting automated… for example robust market mix modeling can now feed directly into our planning systems and optimize plans on the fly.  Re engagement, linking to business outcomes is key – either directly to sales lift or alternatively to a meaningful brand sentiment or intent based metric – different brands lean on different indicators based on the nature of their business.  Other engagement metrics matter of course – time spent, positive comments, shares, likes, yada, yada – but their meaning can only really be derived or understood relative to the KPI being chased, the nature of the story or campaign, the competitive category or environment, etc.  A non-answer maybe because of course, it depends.”

Eileen Kiernan, CMO of UM

“Brand engagement is not limited to social but in today’s socially driven world brand engagement to me is defined as a like, share, tweet, post, re-post, vine, etc. At the end of the day if a person is willing to take an action that their social following sees, that’s the ultimate sign of engagement.”

Lauren Stein, VP, Digital Director, MediaVest

“We don’t stick to one standard path to brand engagement measurement. At OMD we are constantly redefining our approach and developing bespoke definitions that are based on the KPIs and goals of each individual client.”

Greg Castronuovo, President, OMD West

“Engagement is all about context. The right message at the wrong time is too costly in the new normal of hyper connectivity.”

Andrew Hoffman VP Mobile Marketing, Mobext