Measuring digital success: Agencies and brands clash over KPI standards


Although a majority of European brands and agencies say setting KPIs is collaborative, many continue to use conflicting metrics, according to new research.


The study commissioned by leading programmatic marketing and analytics platform DataXu suggests a need for greater agreement between brands and media agencies in defining and setting business-driven KPIs.

The findings, based on a survey with 374 senior marketers at brands and professionals at media agencies across the UK, France and Germany, reveal that both parties often use different KPIs for marketing campaigns—a trend that’s particularly pronounced in the UK.

Although a vast majority (67%) of brands and media agencies surveyed in the UK described the process of setting KPIs as collaborative, they also indicated different preferences for which KPIs they use. Most media agencies prefer to focus on ROI (46%) and website visits (34%), while brands prefer to measure conversion rates (36%) and shares or likes (34%).

Moreover, UK brands in particular feel very certain they know which KPIs are best, as 77% indicated. Not far behind, media agencies expressed similar feelings about their own ability to know best at a rate of 57%. These results suggest that instead of pursuing discrepant KPIs, brands and agencies should make sure they agree on KPIs in pursuit of the brands’ business objectives.

“These findings indicate that although brands and media agencies across the UK are working together to design, run and measure campaigns, they use different metrics for success,” said Chris Le May, DataXu SVP and Managing Director of Europe & Emerging Markets. “This study is a call for all parties involved in digital advertising to reconcile their metrics and define success according to direct business outcomes. Because at the end of the day, what matters is that brands, agencies and tech partners are working together to implement the best solution for the brand.”

The study suggests that agreeing on the best KPIs can be testing for both parties. For example, 62% of brands and 72% of media agencies in the UK say they find it challenging to get valuable KPIs from each other. Furthermore, the study suggests that the agencies and brands that confront such challenges find it difficult to agree on KPIs. In fact, 47% of these media agencies say that brands do not measure the right KPIs. Similarly, 58% of brands say that the KPIs used by media agencies do not align with their business objectives.

Brands and media agencies in the UK may espouse some discrepant views, but, fortunately, they are also very likely to communicate about them. In fact, 85% of brands and 72% of media agencies in the UK say that they would challenge the KPIs presented by the other. In order to define well-informed and collaborative KPIs that reflect the campaign’s specific goals, brands and media agencies will need to draw on this willingness to communicate in order to align their objectives and craft collaborative, effective and business-driven campaigns.


This research was carried out by market research specialists Sapio on behalf of programmatic marketing and analytics platform DataXu in collaboration with Withpr. An online survey of 9 questions was completed by a total of 374 senior marketers in brands and senior professionals in media agencies. 126 were based in the UK; 118 in France; and 130 in Germany. This research was carried out in January 2017.

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