Brand Engagement in the Participation Age

February 28, 2014

Today, marketers face the opportunity to embrace a shift in consumer behavior. Consumers have moved from leaning back, receiving brand messages, to leaning forward, actively engaging with them. More than 2 billion consumers go online regularly, thanks to exponential growth in connectivity and third-screen devices like smartphones and tablets. In this “Participation Age,” consumers control if, when, where and how they engage with brands.

To be competitive, marketers need to actively manage an online engagement strategy. “In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers,” writes David M. Cooperstein, VP-research director serving CMO professionals at Forrester Research, in an October 2013 report, “Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer.”

The industry defines engagement as “a spectrum of consumer advertising activities and experiences — cognitive, emotional and physical — that will have a positive impact on a brand.” This definition came about through the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) industry collaboration spearheaded by the ANA, 4A’s and the IAB, which first published the definition in the February 2014 report titled, “Defining and Measuring Digital Ad Engagement in a Cross-platform World.”

To inform marketers’ engagement strategy, Advertising Age and Google conducted two surveys in parallel — a consumer survey that studied how consumers engage with brands and an industry survey that explored how marketers, agencies and media companies engage with consumers. Six core insights from these surveys will help evaluate, modify and actively manage an online engagement strategy.

(Please see our "Also See" section to the right for the full PDF of this report.)


“Brand Engagement in the Participation Age.” Google Inc., 2014.

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