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Go where you audience is. That’s the word from the industry, according to a new study [download page] from Kantar Millward Brown. More than three-quarters of survey respondents said that they look at the channels that best reach their target audience when determining media budget allocations, per the report.

Master your media strategy with MarketingCharts’ Media Audience Demographics report.

Meanwhile, upstart channels may (logically) have their work cut out for them in upstaging more proven vehicles. While more than two-thirds said that they factor in channels that have been successful for them in the past, just 41% said they’re influenced by new marketing channels and industry innovations.

Not surprisingly, cost and ROI figure prominently in media mix decisions: 63% are influenced by channels that can be easily measured or demonstrate ROI, while 62% factor in channel costs.

It’s understandable that marketers would gravitate towards channels that are more measurable, as several pieces of research demonstrate that marketers are struggling to prove ROI and optimize their media mix.

Indeed, while three-quarters of agencies express confidence in their media mix, fewer than half (43%) of their advertiser counterparts do the same.

Is That Good News For Digital?

There’s probably some tension between the desire to chase audiences and also be able to measure ROI. For example, broadly speaking, social media might be an ideal place to target youth, but very few marketers are at the same time able to quantitatively prove the impact of their spending on social media.

If there’ll be a beneficiary of the ROI factor, though, it seems it will be digital rather than traditional media. Some 60% of the advertisers, agencies and media companies responding to the Kantar Millward Brown survey said that they had a high ability to track ROI for digital channels, with half saying the same about mobile ads and apps.

By contrast, slightly fewer than one-third felt the same way about TV, with about one-sixth reporting a high ability to track ROI from other traditional media channels.

In fact, only about one-third of respondents reported using ROI or sales metrics to measure the performance of TV and other traditional media channels. That could well be likely due to these channels being used more for brand awareness, though. Indeed, past research has found that large advertisers tend to be slightly more likely to measure the outcome of their TV ad campaigns on the basis of increased brand awareness than increased sales.

All told, respondents are about twice as likely to use sales and ROI metrics when measuring digital channels than TV, and about 50% more likely to use such metrics when measuring mobile ads and apps, per the report’s findings.

Which Data Can Be Trusted?

In light of recent reports showing that Facebook is saying its reach is broader than actual Census population numbers (something it ascribes in part to targeting people who happen to be in an area rather than actual citizens or residents), marketers could be forgiven for being skeptical of their claims.

In fact, only around 4 in 10 advertisers and agencies say they trust data from publishers and media partners. There’s a wider discrepancy when it comes to tech companies, DMPs and DSPs, which are trusted by more agencies (53%) than advertisers (37%). Recent research indicates that when managing digital media campaigns, data transparency and access is the most important criterion considered by buyers when recommending ad technologies to clients.

By comparison, there’s a much higher degree of confidence in in-house data generated by research of data science teams (>75%) as well as third-party research from vendors or partners (>70%).

So What’s the Ideal Mix?

Given that companies are targeting different audiences, each will have a different ideal mix. But in the aggregate, respondents feel that a best-in-class mix would be allocated as follows:

  • Cross-channel (digital & traditional): 21%;
  • TV: 20%;
  • Cross-device (online & mobile): 19%;
  • Online advertising (desktop/mobile): 16%;
  • Mobile advertising & apps (13%); and
  • Other traditional media (11%).

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The report is based on a survey of more than 330 leaders, representing advertisers, agencies and media companies around the world.

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