The need for more consumer engagement has become marketing gospel in recent years. Much of this interest is related to the rise in social media, but the concept of engagement has moved well past that domain. Whether it’s mobile, in-app, in-store, on your website or through digital advertising, engagement is often the objective. The question for publishers is, “how can you help advertisers with this goal?”
Most of the interest in engagement has to do with two factors: psychology and attention. The psychological aspects are based on the premises of consistency and sunk cost. Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University has written extensively of his research on the consistency principle. Once someone has affiliated voluntarily with something (in this case a brand) they become psychologically committed to it. Consumers in Western culture want to be seen as consistent and avoid the labels of wishy-washy or flip-flopper.
Additionally, humans are also heavily influenced by the sunk cost fallacy, which states that the more time and money a person invests in something, the more difficult it becomes to abandon it. This is a significant contribution of behavioral economics research. By investing resources or attention in something, people become more likely to stick with it; primarily because they don’t want to consider their original investment as wasted.
Marketers know this. If their advertising can subtly create consumer activity that starts down the consistency path or establishes perceived sunk cost, they are laying a foundation for conversion.
On a more practical level, engagement is a method of capturing and holding a consumer’s attention. Without consumers’ attention, and often their sustained attention, there is little likelihood of consummating a transaction. It may be that some advertisers simply need enough attention to walk consumers through the buying journey and land them on a purchase page. Other advertises may find value in showing consumers about their affiliation with a sport, star, idea or other entity that provides a halo effect for the brand. In both instances, attention is a prerequisite.
The attention benefits further accrue to advertisers when you consider that time is finite. Tom Davenport and John Beck first posited the thesis of attention as a scare commodity back in 2001. Consumers that are spending time with your brand cannot be simultaneously giving attention to a competitor’s brand or to other products that may compete for their discretionary spending.
What is Required for Engagement
For engagement to occur, there are two elements: motivation and method. The ad placement, targeting and creative must first be relevant and interesting to the consumer to motivate an engagement. The ad unit must also include a convenient method for the consumer to engage. In the digital world, the first revolution was the click-through. Pioneered in 1994 by Wired Magazine’s online publication, the click-through display ad has come a long way. Google has parlayed this simple concept of consumer-driven engagement into a formidable advertising business that now exceeds $50 billion.
Making Audio Engaging
Audio entertainment has historically had an engagement challenge. Radio has large audiences, but no backchannel to enable consumers to easily engage. Many advertisers have loaded up ad copy by repeating 800 numbers and URLs in hopes of creating engagement. Others announce the location of stores to promote foot traffic. Ultimately, the problem here is convenience. The consumer cannot take a spontaneous action to engage with traditional audio advertising. They must stop what they are doing, and at some point take a separate action to self-select into the offer. As a result, radio is viewed predominantly as an awareness advertising medium devoid of engagement.
When Internet Radio emerged, the opportunity for in-context engagement emerged through the visual display format. The Internet-connected listening device introduced the backchannel for consumer engagement and convenience when on the desktop. As listening is moving to mobile devices we are finding that, touch/click-based engagement is not particularly convenient. Most listening is done when the screen is not visible and a good deal of it when consumers cannot interact with the screen because they are ultramobile.
Audio Engagement Needs a Voice Click
At XAPPmedia, we address this challenge directly. We developed XAPP Ads to be the voice-click for audio that parallels the innovation display ads brought to online visual media. Twenty years after the first mouse-clickable display ad arrived on the web, XAPP Ads finally filled the gap for audio media with voice-clickable ad technology.
To see some examples of XAPP Ads and voice-click engagement click through to our Gallery here.