Digital Brand Activity Measurement Revisited: Abstract from Google/WPP Research Proposal

This is the abstract from our Google / WPP research proposal regarding measuring brand activity online. I blogged a draft of this earlier, but this is maybe a clearer picture of what we were looking at doing.


Universal Digital Currency: Towards a deeper elaboration and more effective measurement of brand engagement online.

(Joe Fry / Professor Chris Hackley)


It shouldn’t be difficult to understand a decent piece of digital brand activity. But brand engagement online remains somewhat of an enigma. Measurement runs up against numerous problems, including the context specificity of online experience, the individuality of brand engagement, audience characteristics, individual difference, the dynamics of brand communities in online interaction, and mutual contagion between online and offline media – to list but a few.

In particular, the use of quantitative measures (unique visits, etc) – whilst very powerful – can be premature when quality of brand engagement, key to brand equity, is imperfectly understood. The proposed research will explore digital brand effectiveness in order to move toward a clearer, more coherent and more inclusive conceptualization for measurement.

Heightened competition and increased complexity in the digital environment calls for increased openness, and the current economic climate means that digital agencies must collaborate to exist: ‘co-opetition’ is growing and a mutuality of experience between advertisers, agencies, suppliers, competitors and consumers is coming to the fore. However, in this ‘co-opetitive’ context, it is a question of which brands can harness the powerful technologies at their disposal in order to remove inefficiencies, share knowledge, drive engagement (rather than just analyze it) and prove the value of investment in digital through measurable ROI and engaging environments.

The key element of this research is to ground a deeper and more detailed understanding of digital brand engagement and effectiveness in a better understanding of the subjective experiences of consumers and agencies/advertisers online – ultimately pushing towards a universal, useable currency for the measurement of digital brand activity.


These goals are intended to guide the research but they will not delimit its scope- the research will approach the notion of digital brand engagement without presuppositions. Consumer data, industry insight and Google/WPP datasets will no doubt generate novel angles on this concept.

To develop knowledge surrounding consumer, advertiser and agency experiences of digital brand engagement, in order to create a more effective framework for the measurement and comparison of online brand experiences.

To elaborate upon understanding of the subjective experiences of consumers online, and how this translates into brand consciousness, engagement and intention to purchase, in the context of the ‘digital/traditional’ customer journey.

To unpack the applicability, and define the terms, of a ‘single digital currency’ by establishing effectiveness measures underpinned by better and evidence-based assumptions about audience experiences and behaviour online.

Expected Outcomes

It is predicted that whilst a single digital currency is both desirable and plausible, particularly in the current economic climate, that the likelihood of adoption of a single effectiveness measurement tool is unlikely. However, it is also assumed that the development of a conceptual framework and more effective measures of brand engagement online will push closer to this goal, whilst also creating a space for the exploration and deeper understanding of consumer response, both qualitatively and quantitatively, to digital brand activity.

Therefore it is assumed that a framework can be developed, answering:

Are people engaging with the brand online? (eg the microsite/widget you have built)
Does the digital brand experience deliver the intended message?
Is the experience useful to the user? (Information, entertainment, insight etc)
Does the digital brand experience work effectively with the customer journey across traditional /digital media?
What are the terms by which this ‘single digital currency’ can be defined?

Ultimately, the methodology proposed and types of measurement discussed are simple: they are designed to work out what digital brand effectiveness is, how to measure it, and how to then use that framework (eg ‘dwell time’ against ‘intended brand message take out’) to develop the effectiveness of brand engagement online. The construction of useful measurement techniques will hopefully lead to some way of proving the value of ‘well-targeted search journeys, clever seeding and above the line pointers towards very effective microsites’ over ‘average TV ads’ (Greg Doone, MD, Collective London).


We find out whether we get the go-ahead in February. Any thoughts on this are welcomed.


8 Responses

  1. Hi there,
    Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!


  2. Joe…looks like we’re sharing PhD research. I’m in the early throws of diving deep into digital brand engagement – achieving and sustaining brand advocacy in the online environment….it’s a bit of a jungle out there, but I’m gradually getting to a point where there is some shape and structure. I’ve been in the industry for 10 plus years and I believe we’re finally at a point where the Cluetrain has manifested. Exciting times.

    I’ll be popping by quite regularly to bounce ideas…if that’s ok.

    • Interesting stuff Karl. You have anything online I could look at? And yes, of course: feel free to bounce ideas around, its a good forum in which to do so. Good luck brother.

  3. Joe, there’s my blog (which my name should link to) and I’ve also posted some stuff on slideshare and YouTube, and a new site which will be live next week. Once the content is in some decent shape, I’ll come back with the links (if you’re ok with me posting them here).

  4. Hi Joe, as promised (and please don’t see this as a blatant linking thing) here are some areas where you can find a bit more about my research and work as a whole. I think were working in complimentary areas.

    By the way, I’ve added you to my personal blog roll.

    Here are those links:


  5. […] Design: GZ Cafe Bar Ope…joeadamfry on Thoughts on Delivering Creativ…Karl Havard on Digital Brand Activity Measure…Karl Havard on Digital Brand Activity […]

  6. Hi Joe, I run analytics at GroupM – a wpp company. How did you get on with this project? looks nice and ambitious…



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