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Roughly 8 in 10 marketers around the world agree that it’s essential for digital campaigns to drive a direct correlation with business results such as online and offline sales, and a near-equal percentage also agree that the ability to meet business objectives positively impacts assigned marketing budgets. So reveals Xaxis in a report [pdf] that also finds marketing displaying comfort with their existing digital metrics.

Interestingly, 79% of the survey’s close to 5,000 respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that existing metrics are a good way to assess the impact of digital media spend. So what are those metrics?

Respondents were asked to select the method they use most (from a list of 6) to evaluate the success of their digital display media spend.

There was no clear consensus in the results, but CPA (cost per acquisition) emerged narrowly on top with 20% share of the vote. That may reflect the focus on tangible business results as opposed to an engagement metric such as cost per engagement (CPE), which was one of the lesser-cited primary metrics.

Right behind CPA in terms of most-used metrics were cost per completed view (CPCV – 19%) and cost per click (CPC – 19%), followed by click-through rate (CTR – 18%).

The report’s analysts note that sectors where online transactions are less prevalent – such as legal – tend to de-prioritize CPA as a primary metric. By contrast, the Retail, Catering & Leisure category – which presumably has a higher incidence of online transactions – is far more likely to count CPA as its primary metric. Within the US, CTR is prioritized by more respondents (23%) than CPA (21%), according to a separate Xaxis report that examined US-specific results.

Overall, marketers worldwide seem fairly happy with their primary metric, as evidenced by the 8 in 10 who are comfortable with existing ones. Some 86% said that their primary metric is either very (42%) or somewhat (44%) effective in evaluating the success of their campaigns against strategic marketing goals.

Curiously, though, most show a willingness to change their primary metric, despite that display of confidence. Seven in 10 reported being somewhat (39%) or very (33%) likely to change in the next year or two the primary metric they use to evaluate the success of their campaigns. Likelihood of changing the primary metric seemed to correlate with company size, as the largest companies were the most apt to say they’ll make a switch in the coming 12-24 months.

It may be that difficulties in evaluating spend are behind the intent to change. Some 71% strongly (33%) or somewhat (38%) agreed that evaluating digital media spend has become more difficult over the past 5 years.

Meanwhile, looking ahead, respondents said that their top priority for their organization’s media spend over the next 12 months is increased efficiency. That aligns with new research from The Trade Desk, in which efficiency/cost savings emerged as the area most top of mind for CMOs in the coming year.

About the Data: The Xaxis report is based on a survey of 4,798 verified Senior Digital Marketing Managers across 16 global markets: the US; UK; Germany; Italy; Spain; Argentina; Australia; Canada; China; Denmark; India; Mexico; Norway; Poland; Singapore; and Sweden.

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