Custom KPIs ‘used by nearly 9 in 10 marketers’


An overwhelming majority (86%) of UK brand marketers now use custom KPIs to link marketing activity with business objectives, compared with only a quarter (24%) of marketers still relying on click-through rates as their primary metric, according to new research.


The study, from Xaxis, GroupM’s advanced programmatic media arm, highlights that eight in 10 (81%) digital marketers are looking to increase investment in outcome-driven media based on custom KPIs in the next 12-24 months. This is in direct response to organisational priorities identified as increased efficiency (50%), better use of resources (40%), and aligning marketing strategies with business objectives (38%). Surprisingly, ensuring that all ad campaigns run in brand-safe environments – an issue that is consistently highlighted – was a lower priority for UK marketers (23%).

Other key findings include:

• Nine in 10 (86%) UK marketers rely on custom metrics to measure their activities while only a quarter (24%) use click-through rates as their primary metric.
• 81% of digital marketers will increase investment in outcome-driven media based on custom KPIs in the next 12-24 months.
• Barriers to implementing more accountable measurement include budget and resources (20%), as well as current methods being too embedded both internally (16%) and externally (17%).

The majority (81%) of brand marketers feel it is essential for digital campaigns to drive a direct correlation with business outcomes, with more than three-quarters (77%) agreeing they see a positive impact on their marketing budget if objectives are met, while a similar proportion (76%) believes the understanding gives them measurable competitive advantage within the market.

However, this forward-thinking approach to digital media evaluation doesn’t present a complete picture of the UK digital advertising ecosystem. Looking back over the past five years, seven in 10 (71%) UK marketers feel it has become more difficult to evaluate digital media spend. A similar proportion (73%) are open to changing their primary method of digital media evaluation in the next year or two due to this increasingly complex ecosystem. Among those looking to change, barriers identified include budget and resources (20%), as well as current methods being too embedded both internally (16%) and externally (17%). Only a small fraction of marketers (6%) believe there would be no barriers in changing how their organisation evaluates digital media spend.

Commenting on the findings, Harry Harcus, UK and pan-regional Managing Director of Xaxis, said: “The study follows increasing frustration from marketers with current attribution methods and marketing strategies that do not contribute to wider business objectives. While it’s disappointing to see proxy metrics such as click-through rates still being used in some cases as a primary measure – with the UK responsible for the highest level across Europe – we’re reassured that the overwhelming majority of marketers understand the advantages that outcome-driven media can offer and are demanding accountable strategies. This indicates that industry education around more effective measurement is starting to have a demonstrable impact on the market.”
Harcus continues: “Outcome-driven media is a key priority for the UK market, with a continuing focus on accountable media plans and increased efficiencies. Supporting brand marketers with custom KPIs that can be linked to wider business objectives, and ultimately organisational success, is essential to achieve and sustain growth.”

The global report can be found here.


The research was conducted as part of a global study via an online survey in September 2018 among 4,798 digital brand marketers across 16 key global markets: US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, India, and Singapore. 250 marketers were surveyed in the UK.

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