It’s safe to say few in digital advertising believe in the click as a strong gauge of effectiveness, be it advertising or content. Yet attempts to replace it—engagement, influence, impressions, mouse-overs, Facebook Likes, Twitter follows, even Klout—have yet to produce a simple, industry-wide standard.
It’s not for a lack of trying.
Today ShareThis, the company behind the sharing tools built into one million websites, announced one more way to measure user engagement: In partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group, the company’s new effectiveness standard will exist in the form of a score which publishers can use to compare themselves, and the share-ability of their content, to competitors. The score uses ShareThis’ wealth of tracking data to compare outbound sharing, inbound sharing and clickback traffic to a site’s total pageviews.
The company hinted at the move in July, when it replaced founder and CEO Tim Schigel with Kurt Abrahamson, previously director of the content media group within Google AdSense and CEO of SocialMedia.com, which sold to LivingSocial this year.
The company spent much of the year working on the metric, which quantifies the degree a piece of content is shared into a value useful for publishers and advertisers, Abrahamson says. The philosophy behind this, and ShareThis, is that heavily shared content is more engaged content, and ultimately, worth more to buyers and sellers of ads.
As for the dozens of other metrics for ad effectiveness online? “Engagement is still being defined,” Abrahamson says. “Advertisers view what we do as a potentially unique indicator to help them build the right audiences.”
Incidentally, the working title for the measurement is SQI, or Social Quality Index, although ShareThis is open to suggestions for improvement. Adweek’s suggestion, “Shareyness,” was not rejected out of hand. (Update: ShareThis contacted us to say SQI will be the official name for the metric.)