Is Web Analytics the “Blush-o-Meter” We Have Been Looking For?


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The rise and fall of Engagement as a success metric for advertising has been discussed on CustomerThink before. See for instance Graham Hill’s post “The Next Management Fad”

Almost a year later now, media planning guru Erwin Ephron, in one of his recent articles sums up the current state of the concept for the brand advertising world.

  • it isn’t becoming any easier to reach audiences
  • many marketers are hanging on to the idea that some sort of engagement metric is significant besides RFM.
  • But despite all the excitement about such a metric it has not been adopted into common practice by media planners, or has at least not replaced RFM.

No wonder. After all, how would one measure people “getting turned on to a brand idea” by an ad campaign, asks Erwin Ephron: Using a blushometer?

While this is going on among marketers in the offline advertising world, the marketers in the online camp have been chugging away at defining engagement as a success metric in their medium. Blessed with detail data that would make any offline marketer jealous, web analysts have a better shot at this.

Their primary purpose is to make their sites and ads better. Not a goal that most other marketers are very interested in, frankly.

But what is really fun to watch is the opportunity for offline advertisers and web analysts to work together in order to address the offline advertiser’s problems.

See for example Frito-Lay’s viral campaign around its Doritos brand: Crash the Super Bowl. In 2006/2007 the campaign where audiences could pick a winner among consumer generated commercials. The winner was shown during the Super Bowl. The voting was done on

Going to to see publicly available (panel based) estimates for visitor traffic to the site you would get a graph looking like the one here.

Clearly this audience went beyond just RFM of seeing Doritos ads in the run up to the Super Bowl. They were engaged enough to go online for a chance to vote. Of course, the marketers at Doritos can refine measurement much further since they have the full web analytics data available to them. So they might measure engagement metrics such as

  • session durations
  • how many commercials were played by visitors on average
  • whether a vote was cast
  • whether “forward to a friend” type functionality was used
  • site registrations
  • etc

In 2007/2008 Frito-Lay repeated the campaign this time asking customers to vote for the best song written by consumers. Again, the voting was done online.

So why not repeat the web traffic measurement and see which campaign was better at engaging customers? It should be a piece of cake for web analysts at Frito-Lay! (I would display the graph from here but this time voting was done on Statistics for that are not readily available publicly since it is a sub directory within

Other analytics on social engagement that advertisers can run are for example:

  • Do a simple search on Google to reveal the number of blogs / sites that mention something about the advertisement campaign
  • Go to to see the amount of searches that are done on the keyword “Crash the superbowl”
  • Use blog monitoring solutions such as the ones from Biz360 and TNS media intelligence (cymfony) to see not just volume of chatter but an indication of tone/sentiment
  • Correlate the above to retail checkout scanner data from vendors such as IRI (InfoScan)

So, is web analytics the blushometer that offline advertisers have been looking for? We still can’t see our audiences blush, but we can see more than ever before.


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