Originally uploaded by fotologic

So I am sitting there in a meeting in a far-off Asian country. Seated all around me are marketing managers and directors from my client’s company. My colleagues and I are slightly jet lagged but hyped — the countdown to our presentation is only minutes away. We just have to wait through one more presentation on "digital strategy" from another agency. The irony is not lost on us … we are, after all, about to present a solution to the challenge of digital strategy — and we feel like we have nailed it.

Then it starts. Well, I thought — "I don’t know a lot about digitial". Hmmm. "But what I do know, is you can’t measure it". What? I stifle the intake of my breath. This is not the time. This is not the place.

To my surprise I look around the room and observe a sea of nodding heads. Not a dissenting voice. Not one.

As I mentioned in this post on measurement some time ago, the idea of tracking hits and even page views seemed quaint and outdated. But what if there really was an AUTOMATED way of measuring what your audience … or what your PARTICIPANTS were interested in? What if you could use this to refine your site/project/marketing efforts — on the fly?

Josh Catone has an interesting article on the new Alenty  site engagement measurement tool. Sure it seems to be focused on banners, but I have a feeling that it would be much more beneficially deployed under the hood of your community system. Imagine if Microsoft turned this on for Facebook? How about a widget for Typepad that allows bloggers to tap into the data about their blogs? Or imagine what this would mean for game developers?

In the future, this sort of technology will be mandatory for all branded content. Not only that, when combined with upstream and downstream analytics, the potential for us all to understand what works, what doesn’t and the IMPACTS of our cohesive branding, design and experience efforts will transform the business of branding. And yes, it really is all about the audience. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.