I caught some of Federated Media's Conversational Marketing Summit yesterday. My pick for can't-miss session? The Super Metrics: Data that Matters in Conversational Media.
The premise-that "the space is littered with disparate and discordant data points, methodologies, tracking and reporting tools" couldn't be more timely. Get ten people in a room and ask them what engagement means, how to measure it and how to calculate its value. (Call me when you're done. And no fair peeking at your neighbor's answer.)
The session was moderated by Jeremiah Owyang, and panelists included Rob Crumpler, President and CEO, BuzzLogic; Avinash Kaushik, Author, Blogger, Analytics Evangelist, Google; Shahar Nechmad, Founder and CEO, NuConomy; and David Veneski, Digital Campaigns Manager, Intel.
Jeremiah began by asking, "What is engagement? No one agrees on what it means," which unleashed a flood of cogent points as well as a few tart one-liners. (As Homer Simpson says, "It's funny because it's true.")
Here are some of the highlights:
"Engagement is not a metric, it's an excuse. It falls in a world of truthiness." (Avinash Kaushik)
"Taking a bunch of metrics and puking it out on a dashboard--that sucks. I'm a big fan of saying create your own definition and call it what you're measuring. If you develop a metric that says "time spent on site" don't sexify it by calling it engagement-call it "time spent on site." (Avinash Kaushik)
"I like to go fish where the fish are." (David Veneski)
On whether referrer links back to the corporate Web site matter:
"Intel.com has 100,000 pages, roughly. It's not very consumer friendly at this stage of the game...if I can take an audience and market to them where they are ready to buy, and make them prefer and click on Intel, I have just now increased our dollars back into the coffers." (David Veneski)
On the attributes that make up engagement:
"There should be different engagement metrics for different verticals." (Shahar Nechmad)
On why context matters:
"How do consumers consume in the social environment differently from the way they consume in the mainstream media? (Rob Crumpler)
On convincing brands that social media is really where they should spend their money:
"What can you measure about a picture of a Chevy Malibu in TIME Magazine? You can measure subscribers, but other than that it's a completely faith-based initiative." (Avinash Kaushik)
"Even with the most pathetic metrics, we can beat the crap out of the other guys." (Avinash Kaushik)
On the fallacy of assuming that how people behave in one online session is predictive of whether they will buy:
"How many people really buy in one session? Yet we measure this way." (Shahar Nechmad)
On putting metrics in perspective:
"When you're in your car, what's most important? Your dashboard, or the GPS that tells you where you are and where you want to go?" (Jeremiah Owyang)
The bottom line:
"You must know what you're solving for. `And you must have solid products and services." (Avinash Kaushik)
How to do all of this? Concrete steps to make it happen? Not quite there yet. As Deb Schultz pointed out during the Q&A, these guys are going to have to get past the definitional stage to some real industry-wide agreements for measurement (I hesitate to say standards) in the not-too-distant future. But as hard as it is to remember out here in Valleyland, it's still early days yet.
Update: Thank you, Jeremiah, for the shout out.