Embedded Metrics are Preventing Marketers from Changing KPIs


The majority of global marketers are planning to invest more in outcome-driven media, and want to use more custom key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success according to new research from Xaxis. But some are finding it hard to change due to how embedded current metrics are with their industry partners.

The survey, conducted by Censuswide, polled nearly 5,000 senior digital marketing managers across 16 markets to gauge their attitudes towards outcome driven media, which Xaxis defines as “planning and optimising campaigns against KPIs – often tailor-made for an advertiser or campaign – that are much more closely aligned to the marketer’s ultimate marketing and business goals”.

Marketers reported that their current metrics are effective at measuring campaign success – 42 percent said the metrics they use are “very effective”, and a further 44 percent said they’re “somewhat effective”. Nonetheless, the majority said that they’re planning to change which metrics they use over the next two years. Thirty-three percent said they are “very likely” to change the primary metrics they use for evaluating campaigns in the next 12-24 months, while 39 percent they are “somewhat likely”.

This apparent contradiction may be due to how it’s becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate digital media spend. Seventy-one percent of respondents either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that evaluating media spend has become more difficult over the past five years, which could be problematic considering that 81 percent believe it is essential for digital campaigns to drive a direct correlation with business results.

So while marketers might find their current metrics work for now, they are perhaps looking to change metrics in anticipation that they’ll become less effective in the future.

Many are choosing to adopt custom KPI, adapted specifically for they’re particular business goals. Over half (52 percent) said they are already using more than one custom KPI, with only 13 percent using no custom KPIs whatsoever. Seventy-seven percent said either that it’s somewhat easy of very easy to use custom KPIs to link digital media spend with measurable business results.

These attitudes are reflected in marketers’ intentions to invest in outcome driven media in the near future. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they are very likely to invest in outcome driven media over the next two years, and 45 percent said they are somewhat likely.

But there are still significant barriers preventing marketers from altering which KPIs they use. One key problem is that current metrics are too firmly embedded both internally and externally. Sixteen percent said the primary barrier to change is that existing metrics are too embedded with industry partners, while 14 percent said current metrics are too embedded internally.

Other major problems identified are limited budgets and resources needed to fund the change, and a lack of awareness of better alternatives to current metrics.


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