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Engagement Does Not Equal Opportunity

Time Is Not Always Money

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 | Posted by Aaron Goldman

Posted In: Digital Marketing / Press / Press Mentions

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Yesterday, I had an interesting exchange with Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost regarding this research recently put out by comScore -- Microsoft Sites Captures Largest Share of Time Spent Online.

According to the press release, "the study found that Microsoft Sites captured nearly 15 percent of time spent online worldwide in September, making it the most engaging global property." Laurie asked me if Microsoft is the most engaging destination then why doesn't it generate the most ad revenue?

A very good question, to which I replied, "Engagement does not equal monetization. In fact, they have an inverse relationship. A person on an engaging site is less likely to click on ads because they are deeply engaged in the content. Google, on the other hand is less engaging (with the exception of YouTube). It simply gets you from point A to point B. And, since many of the links that get you from A to B are paid ads, Google collects tidy sums along the way."

Of course, Laurie posed the logical follow up question -- could this study could actually be bad news for Microsoft? In response, I back-pedaled a bit and clarified, "Well, I wouldn't say that. After all, when people are done engaging they will likely search to find the next piece of content to spend time with. Since Bing is the default on all MSFT sites, it captures lots of exit traffic."

Laurie ended up citing a snippet of my POV in her article, Microsoft Bing Gives WiFi Users Free Search. The excerpt follows...
As marketers know, when consumers "engage" with an ad, it doesn't always lead to conversion. Aaron Goldman, managing partner at Connectual, points out that sometimes the consumer is less likely to click on the ad because they are immersed in the content.
As many readers of this blog know, I'm currently writing a book titled, "Everything I Need to Know About Marketing I Learned From Google." In it, I lay out twenty lessons learned from Google about marketing, including things like Relevancy Rules, Mindset Matters, etc. Nowhere in there will you find anything about disrupting engaged consumers. In fact, to the contrary, one of my key tenants is, "Don't Interrupt!"

While having engaging properties is certainly not a bad thing for Microsoft, it's important not to confuse time spent with marketing opportunity.


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