You are on page 1of 3

Editorial: Building ''Engagement/' One Brick at a Time

BOB WOODARD Co-Editor bob_woodard@
MANY WAYS it seenis that the concept of "Engagement" is where that of "Brand Equity" was 20 or so years ago: lacking in clarity about how it works, what effect it has, and why we need yet another marketing construct. But below the surface there is a clear difference. First of all, the term "Brand Equity" started its life as a rather stately phrase that echoed its pedigree in the financial concept of equity. Beyond this, once underway, the process of conceptualizing and operationalizing brand equity seemed, in some ways, like a process of organizing disparate measurements already in our midst, such as loyalty, price responsiveness, and the depth and breadth of benefit perceptions and attitudes, and then finding the intellectual glue that made them all cohere. Additionally, while I am not a psychologist, I'm guessing that, with the advances of neuroscience, the underlying psychological mechanisms that might govern such a concept came well within reach relatively early in Brand Equity's life. Now, while several different constructs of Brand Equity exist, my view is that marketing practitioners generally share at least a conceptually similar and relatively clear idea of how to measure and report something akin to it inside their organizations and that we are more or less content "to agree to disagree" about our differences. What we really want most at this point are newer and better analytical tools for doing Brand Equity research, harvesting deeper insights from it, and connecting specific equity measures more concretely to revenue, margins, profit, and shareholder value. IN

paper for The ARF on the "Anatomy of Engagement" takes a bold step toward defining the concept holistically by positing and elaborating on what are most likely to be the key cognitive processes involved in such a concept. One realizes after reading through the document that integrating and applying the vast wealth and complexity of relevant new learning from neuroscience and psychology-^let alone codifying, simplifying, harmonizing, and popularizing it—will not be a trivial matter. The construct of Engagement that we end up with will, I am sure, be a worthy and well-defined one, to which all advertisers will aspire. But it will also be one that demands several sophisticated measures, as well as a sophisticated understanding of how they relate to one another. So be it. This one is worth the wait and the effort, even if it is not resolved completely in the near future. "Engagement" represents the quintessence of what we ultirnately want from advertising metrics, including those used in copy testing, as well as those used in media measurement. By considering not only the delivery and reception of specific media but also the ability of each medium to activate the key cognitive processes outlined by Mast and Zaltman, it could ultimately become the "great equalizer" among media measurements and facilitate the comparison of and trade-off's among alternative media types. But the matter is probably even more complicated than what I have depicted so far, because a reasonable person would expect there to be a measurable interaction between very engaging creative and engaging media. We all know the difficulties of measuring interaction. Well, as the old saw goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither will the fully developed concept behind nor the metrics for Engagement.

Engagement, on the other hand, seems a less stately term—more emotionally evocative and, consequently, more prone to divergent interpretations. This has led to an especially spirited, ongoing debate. Fred Mast's. and Jerry Zaltman's white
DOi: 10.2501/S0021849906060442

December 2 0 0 6 JOURnilL Of IIDUERTISinG RESEBRCH 3 5 3


In the meantime, this issue of the Journal
of Advertising Research [JAR) contains a set

of marvelous articles, each of which does its part to help concretize this daunting but still inviting (perhaps, "engaging"?) ideal. Many of our articles focus on marketing or environmental stimuli themselves and how they affect potentially important aspects of Engagement: the harmonization of an advertisement with its surrounding context (Wang); the presence of engaging context surrounding an advertisement (Cunningham, Hall, and Young; Marci); the effect of negative environmental stimuli on brands (Dahlen and Lange); the use of sponsorships that are "gifts of real value to the audience,"

an idea called "True Sponsorship" (Harvey, Gray, and Despain); and the role of emotional versus rational advertising content in driving Brand Favorability (Heath, Brandt, and Nairn). Other articles deal with either the characteristics of the target audience or the interaction between these characteristics and those of the marketing stimulus (Close, Firmey, Lacey, and Sneath; Allan; Rejmolds). Our issue concludes with Rex Briggs's article on the measurement of advertising effectiveness and Joe Plummer's review of Rex's latest book. This is our first issue on Engagement, but, judging from the interest that the topic has generated and the work that has yet to be done, I am confidently pre-

dicting that it won't be our last. However, it will be my final issue as co-editor of the JAR. It has been both a pleasure and an honor to work with the JAR team over the past two years as we strove to keep our readers on the leading edge of insight from advertising research and provide them with eminently practical ways to get the most out of these insights in their own enterprises. I am especially grateful to Bob Barocci and Joe Plummer for giving me this wonderful opportunity. And I owe a special thanks to our exceptionally capable and good-humored managing editor, Courtney Wolf, for her assistance in making each issue of the JAR a reality.