The next big thing in digital marketing

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Look around. What’s the hot topic of the day? Influence. But there’s something beyond influence, something that’s even more powerful – commitment. What we see today are influence scores that are based on popularity. What has to come next are commitment scores, a multiplier of not only how powerful someone is at broadcasting or retransmitting a message, but how powerful someone is in engaging and converting their audience on your behalf.

This is on my mind very recently because of YouTube’s recent announcement that they are experimenting with video rankings based on how many users watched a video all the way to the end. That’s a neat twist – it says that the content was compelling enough to get people to stick around.

What would happen if today’s influence scores went beyond simple retweets, beyond simple rebroadcasting? What if an influencer’s scores were based on conversions made, videos watched, books read all the way to the end? The landscape of influence would look very different.

For example, who is more valuable, Chris Brogan or Tom Webster? If you look at rebroadcast scores today, Chris Brogan is by far the clear winner, by several orders of magnitude. However, if engagement mattered at a very deep level, you’d find that Tom Webster’s fans may be significantly less numerous, but engage and read all the way to the end, several times over. If we’re looking to see how engaged an audience is, Tom might well be more powerful at getting people to engage and commit than Chris.

Intuitively, we know this as marketers. We know we’d rather have conversions than retweets. We know we’d rather have money in the bank rather than exposure. Certainly, if there’s an “all of the above” option, we’ll gladly take it, but if we had to be more selective, things closer to the bank are better than things farther away from the bank. We’d rather have a few people more deeply commit (with their dollars) than have a bunch of people lightly commit (with things that don’t matter to the bottom line).

In the same way that PageRank was a global metric that gave way to EdgeRank being a metric that was contextual, so will global influence scores give way to commitment scores that are contextual. Your commitment score to me is likely to be different than your commitment score to Tom Webster.

We’re not far away from commitment scoring. YouTube is looking at how much of the video has been watched. Amazon is tracking how far into a book you read. Facebook is now asking people, instead of just liking a page, to add it to your Interest Lists. Popups can fire only when you reach the end of the blog post. Our tools are giving us more and more options to measure commitment. The question is, are you ready to change your marketing focus from attention-getting alone to attention-getting plus commitment-achieving?

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


14 responses to “The next big thing in digital marketing”

  1. Is it right to call this as ‘commitment marketing’? So many terms these days and I’m having an overload. I guess, ROI speak will always come down to $$speak..

    1. I only called it that to differentiate it from engagement.

      1. I love the term Commitment Optimization! I see it as a natural progression: We must identify our desired audience before we can break through all the other noise to reach them. Once we get their attention, we must engage them in meaningful ways that add value to their lives in order to become part of their daily routine. Once relationship is established, we must consistently continue to deliver what our customers/clients/brand ambassadors need or want in order to maintain those relationships. Without COMMITMENT, many will be easily seduced by whatever sexy advertisement or “Next Big Thing” brand/experience they encounter.

        1. Hmm, I may have done something wrong here… I tried to delete and repost the above comment so I wasn’t some creeper without a photo, but the system won’t let me. If anyone reading Christopher’s blog is freaked out by thoughts disconnected from a face, here I am. The above thoughts are mine. =)

  2. I like this thinking very much. I think the field is already heading this way — we just can;t see it. For example, I believe companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google can place precise dollar values on influencers based on purchases being made from network contacts after a reccomendation or comment.

  3. I have to say I love that the first thing under The Next Big Thing In Digital Marketing is my picture. I am the next big thing in Digital Marketing. What’s YOUR Tom Webster strategy? I take bribes.

    1. I was just waiting for the word “stamina” to drop.

      1. @twitter-755294:disqus – The World’s Most Interesting Man … who is also the NEXT BIG THING.

  4. Love it. Just added Social Commitment Optimization to my LinkedIn profile. I’ll keep you posted on the headhunter inquiries.

  5. Very thought provoking post. It would be interesting to see if the emergence of a “commitment metric” would have a top-down influence on software and technology. Like you mentioned with the YouTube example, they are measuring videos watched to the end. This will likely cause a large shift in tech and software.

  6. I read this entire blog post. Just saying…

  7. Interesting thoughts, Dr. Penn.

    Lead / customer scoring is definitely the precursor to all of this. I know which prospects / customers spend the most time on my site, download the most whitepapers, spend the most time in the app, etc. We get lead data from Pardot and user data from Totango. And we (try to) stitch it all together in Salesforce.

    I think that the biggest opportunities from the concepts that you’ve surfaced comes from aggregating off-site early funnel actions that happen in advance of the conversion action – like viewed a YouTube video to completion – and/or surfacing more subtle commitment signals from on-site actions – like the fact that I read this post to completion AND left a comment.

    Thanks for sharing.


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