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Europe's Agencies and Brands Differ on Digital Campaign KPIs

Little consensus on success metrics in UK, France and Germany

May 17, 2017 | Marketing

The idea that brands and their agencies would work together to set a digital campaign’s key performance indicators (KPIs) would seem a given. But beyond that, things get harder to reconcile. A recent survey of senior brand marketing and agency professionals in France, Germany and the UK found little consensus about what campaign KPIs should be.

January 2017 polling of execs in those three countries by Sapio Research for DataXu and London-based PR agency WithPR saw an average of 65% of respondents across France, Germany and the UK agreeing that setting digital advertising or marketing campaign KPIs was a collaborative process.

That sense was strongest in France, cited by 69% of respondents, and weakest in Germany, where 59% of those polled said the same.

Drilling down into specifics, philosophies differed about key KPIs from country to country. Averaging brand and agency responses together, the most common metric used to measure the success of digital campaigns in France was cost per action, followed closely by incremental sales and repeat clients; in Germany it was incremental sales and customer acquisition cost; and in the UK it was return on marketing investment and then shares or “likes.”

Metrics Used to Measure Success of Digital Ad/Marketing Campaigns According to Senior Marketers* in France, Germany and the UK, Jan 2017 (% of respondents)

Those figures were averages among brand and agency responses—a closer look shows some wider variances in the most commonly used KPIs between the two groups within individual countries.

In the UK, marketing ROI (46%) and website visits (34%) were agency respondents’ most commonly used success metrics, but those KPIs were mentioned by just 23% and 15% of brand execs, respectively. Brands most commonly judged success by conversion rates (36%) and shares or “likes” (34%), but only 18% and 25% of agency respondents chose those two metrics, respectively.

Among respondents from France, the biggest discrepancies were for using cost per action, cited by 44% of brands but just 25% of agencies; and cost per click, cited by 41% of agencies but only 24% of brands.

In Germany, brands’ leading success metric, customer acquisition cost, was chosen by 41% of those execs, but by just 24% of agency respondents. Conversely, agencies’ top metric, cost per click (34%), was cited by just 22% of brands. Another notable difference: 22% of brands said they used conversions rates as a success metric, vs. only 6% of agencies.

Unsurprisingly, these differences complicate the brand-agency relationship. In the UK, for example, the study found 62% of brands and 72% of media agencies said it was challenging to get valuable KPIs from each other. In Germany, more than half of brand and agency respondents said the same. Only in France did less than half of those polled agree to that sentiment.

“This study is a call for all parties involved in digital advertising to reconcile their metrics and define success according to direct business outcomes,” said Chris Le May, DataXu senior vice president and managing director of Europe and emerging markets. “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 costs of failing to do so will only rise.

Digital efforts continue to represent an ever-growing share of total media ad spending in all three countries, according to eMarketer estimates. The UK will see the greatest share of ad spend devoted to digital in 2017—57.9%—followed by Germany (30.0%) and France (26.4%).

Cliff Annicelli

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