Everyone’s talking about customer engagement.  And for good reason.  The notion goes beyond the last decade of CRM-focused tactics and demands that marketers not only engage their customers, but understand how to measure that engagement.  And, translate it into real value.  Customer engagement is only one variable that contributes to the overall value equation, but it is without a doubt, the most vital attribute from which marketers can build on existing value.

There is no common definition of engagement across industries, or even channels.  As a strategist from BSSP recently put it in Digiday, “The offline world’s weakness is that it has thought about engagement in the passive sense.  It’s been ‘sit back and watch my great ad.’ It hasn’t really thought about saying ‘lean forward and interact with us.'”  Although his point was largely about data distribution, and putting data back in the hands of the audience from which it is collected, the larger message about data usage for good and not evil was right on.  I’m not necessarily on board with sharing user data just because you can, but only when it’s relevant and beneficial to the audience, not just advertisers.

A few key players in the media space are already doing a great job leveraging their audience data to improve the overall user experience.  Defining engagement by total time, cross-platform content consumption, and willingness to pay for content is one way to get at relative user value. And an even better way to understand your audience to ensure what they consume and how they are able to consume it is of value to them, not just you.