Engagement Media: The Power and Influence

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By Michael Sippey

Digital media has finally become an effective way for brands to reach consumers. And brands have done it by turning advertising into engaging online content.

For the past 10 years, many brands have looked at online as “just another channel.” They repurposed and reformatted their existing campaigns, then scheduled and delivered them through the standard ad units. And what happened? Consumers ignored them.

But just as search evolved to a place where direct-response marketing became effective on the web (thanks to Google), digital media has evolved to a place where brand advertising is now effective as well. How did this happen? In an on-demand, always-in-your-pocket media world in which attention is scarce, how are brands breaking through online?

Engagement media.

Thanks to a nearly infinite supply of content creators and a marginal cost of creating media that has continued its relentless asymptotic march to $0.00, we’ve had gobs of news sites, blogs and specialty content sites for a while. But what’s different now is the combination of new modes of expression (thanks to video, mobile, tablets and apps) and new modes of distribution (thanks to networks like Facebook and Twitter).

Passion + platforms + distribution = a new landscape for media, and new opportunities for brands that understand how to create and leverage engagement media.

So what does engagement media look like?

It’s passionate. Passion means content that’s created by people who understand their category and care deeply about their audience. Passion is not content written by robots…for robots.

It’s rich. Creators of engagement media understand and exploit the new transmedia landscape of text, images, audio, video, apps and games—-across screens of every dimension. Engagement media is not stuck in the browser.

It’s fluid. It’s designed to flow not only between devices and screens, but across services and experiences. It understands and adapts to new media discovery and consumption experiences like Flipboard, Techmeme or Imagesoak. It’s not afraid of new distribution channels.

It’s social. Creators understand the new realities of how awareness and distribution happen and optimize their properties for sharing through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and whatever comes next.

It’s smart. Successful creators know how to attract an audience, offer them compelling content and social tools, and keep them coming back for more. And they appreciate the role that advertising plays in supporting media—-a role it has long played in various forms—-and they’re friendly to brands that are friendly to their efforts.

How can marketers take advantage of engagement media?

Understand it. You’re probably well on your way already, since you’re most likely soaking in it as it is. But we can help you understand what the landscape looks like, who the influential voices are, and how audiences discover and connect with engagement media.

Partner with engagement media creators. Engagement media is where your brand can connect with the audience you’re trying to reach, because it’s where they’re tuning in to the things that they’re passionate about and sharing that with their friends. And it’s not just about ad buys; we can help you partner with leading voices to create integrated experiences that go beyond the banner.

Create engagement media. At its core, compelling brand advertising is great content that tells a great story. Bringing that story to consumers online means transforming it to take advantage of multiple platforms, network distribution and social mechanics.

In the wake of great change, there’s always a period of chaos before resolution. We’ve been hearing the web story for ten years; now it’s for real. We know where the audience is and we know how to reach them—-successfully.

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