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IAB Defines Cross Platform Ad Engagement And Identifies Core Digital Metrics As Part Of The Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) Initiative

Both Buy and Sell Sides Agree on Tangible Recommendations and Define Descriptive Metrics of Engagement

PALM DESERT, CA (February 10, 2014) — The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) today announced a new definition of advertising engagement and identified core metrics for digital and legacy ad engagement across platforms.

While acknowledging that there can be no ‘”one size fits all approach”’, for the first time, both buy and sell sides agree on recommendations for metrics in the three categories of engagement: cognitive, emotional, and behavioral/physical. The report, titled ‘”The Advertising Engagement Spectrum: Defining and Measuring Digital Ad Engagement in a Cross-Platform World’” builds on the concepts around engagement as outlined in the 2012 IAB report ‘”Digital Ad Engagement: An Industry Overview and Reconceptualization.” To summarize, the report draws six key conclusions:

  1. Engagement is an extremely complex issue; there is no ‘one size fits all,’ and no single approach.
  2. It is critical for core metrics of digital advertising engagement to be comparable to other media.
  3. The industry needs benchmarks of performance, creating yet another reason to seek consensus on core metrics and definitions.
  4. Engagement is driven as much or more by the creative execution as by the media platform.
  5. Digital advertising Engagement encompasses more than physical interaction.
  6. Social Media is more than a single form of Engagement.

The report articulates the definition of Ad Engagement as: “A spectrum of consumer advertising activities and experiences — cognitive, emotional, and physical — that will have a positive impact on a Brand.” The report goes on to propose metrics that should be considered within each of these areas, including measurements of campaign awareness and attribute recall as part of the Cognitive group; brand loyalty and physiological response in the Emotional area; and gaze time and swipes in Behavioral/Physical.

The results and recommendations in the report will serve as the basis for the MRC’s guidance on standardizing Engagement metrics, due later this year as part of the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative. 3MS is a cross-ecosystem partnership to identify and define digital media currencies and the core metrics for planning, buying and evaluating brand advertising across all platforms. The end-goal is to supply marketers with the metrics and models they need to: intelligently allocate their budgets across media, invest more confidently in digital media, and increase accountability, performance, and marketing budgets overall.

“Engagement — whether online or off — is not a single “event,” but more of a continuum of consumer activities, cognitive, behavioral, emotion, around an ad and a brand,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President Research, Analytics, and Measurement, IAB. “By defining and agreeing upon a clear set of metrics for measuring digital ad engagement that are comparable to other media and can measure uniquely interactive constructs of digital brand ads, we have reached a significant milestone in the 3MS initiative.”

The IAB Executive Working Group was comprised of IAB members. The Agency Advisory Group that participated in developing the paper included representatives from an array of agencies and disciplines within them, and the findings were vetted by selected executive members of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). The report was authored by Betsy Frank, Founder and Principal of Betsy Frank Insights, LLC, a long-time industry executive and independent third party.

The full report: ‘Digital Ad Engagement: An Industry Overview and Reconceptualization’ is available for download by visiting

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 600 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

About 3MS
The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and 4As (American Association of Advertising Agencies) launched the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) initiative in 2011, a major collaboration to lead the industry in developing digital metrics and cross platform measurement solutions. The goal of 3MS is to enhance marketing and media management decision-making. The three organizations represent the entire value chain in marketing and advertising and work closely with the MRC to ensure the success of the initiative. The MRC is a non-profit industry association whose goal is to confirm measurement services are valid, reliable and effective. To learn more about the Making Measurement Make Sense initiative, go to