Marketers seek data simplicity


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July 18: New research from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and Warc has highlighted the changes that brands face in dealing with the torrent of data being generated by digital channels.

A survey of senior marketers with global or regional responsibilities at major multinational brands found that many fear they will drown in data and as a result are looking for ways to simplify the number of key performance indicators they monitor. This is partly driven by the understanding that as new platforms, such as mobile, become more important, it will greatly increase the number of data points being generated by their marketing. Fifty per cent cited the number of data sources as a barrier to successful online measurement.

The Digital KPIs Research was based on responses from 25 companies across 11 categories including food, pharma and toys. Respondents had responsibility for approximately US$35bn in total marketing spend.

The majority of respondents are currently tracking between five and 10 different digital KPIs but 24% of respondents are already monitoring 10-15 and 8% are tracking of 16-20 while 12% keep an eye on less than five indicators. Seventy-two per cent of respondents thought their current data load was about right but 20% conceded that it was too many.

Increasingly the language of paid, owned and earned media is now being adopted by the world's biggest advertisers in an attempt to understand how each area contributes to the return on objectives for each organisation. More than half of respondents now use this terminology to classify their digital performance and a further 12% plan to do so in the future.

Critical to the success of the process of managing digital investment is to ensure that in identifying measures of success, marketers do not create siloes. All KPIs must be driven by the brand's overall marketing and business objectives. This is reflected in the largest percentage (82) of respondents citing brand strategy as the driver of their KPIs for digital platforms.

Additional findings from the report include:
  • Dashboards providing real time updates of key measures are seen as critical to translating data into an easy to use form but some brands fear this process could go too far. “Death by dashboard” is a real risk and some organisations report that more than 10 different dashboards have been developed globally.
  • Lack of dedicated resources (cited by 74% of respondents), a shortage of knowledge among marketing teams (70%) as well as specific gaps in online ROI expertise (57%) are seen as the main barriers to successful online measurement.
  • Social media is being tracked differently to other online activity – the same is also true of mobile – with greater emphasis on targeting fans and followers, tracking engagement (including NPS) and analyzing sentiment compared to a focus on requests, registrations, clicks and traffic for other online activity. Seventy-five percent of respondents use specific tools for measuring social media but a shortage of resources as well as a lack of clarity about what vendors offer are seen as barriers to success.
  • Standardising digital Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) across markets, linking KPIs to sales and creating aggregated dashboards for online metrics are the main priorities for marketers in this area over the next 12 months.

Said Stephan Loerke, WFA Managing Director; “Measuring marketing performance is very often the first step to improving outcomes and setting clear, relevant KPIs are essential to this process. Managing the data that these KPIs create is a challenge but one that in most cases has to be tackled internally and marketers need to resource this area. The challenge of managing and creating business opportunity from big data has really only just started and it will be critical to business success in the future.”

For more information please contact
Alastair Ray
+44 (0)1600 713 987
+44 (0)7941 428 243

Note for editors:

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is the voice of marketers worldwide, representing 90% of global marketing communications spend- roughly US$700 billion per annum- through a unique, global network of the world's biggest markets and biggest marketers.

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