In Nielsen Study, Many CMOs Still Say Measurement Doesn't Measure Up

In an in-depth survey of chief marketing officers, Nielsen reports that 82% of them expect to increase their spending on digital media in the next year, but only 30% plan to increase the share they parcel out to ad buys in traditional media. 

These CMOs, on average, say they expect the digital spend to increase by 49% in the next 12 months. In traditional media, nearly half expect a decrease in spending there, with the average prediction being about 5%. 

But they also admit they maybe flying blind. In terms of measurement, only one in four marketers reported high levels of confidence in the ability to measure the return-on-investment  (ROI) of their media spend, regardless of type or the trade spend, Nielsen reports. Not surprisingly, 79% expect to increase their investment in marketing analytics and attribution in the next 12 months.



Over 44% of the marketers agreed that they are getting the most out of their media budget with the data they have. But about 28% say they don’t have enough quality data. Only 26% feel “very” or “extremely” confident they have the right technology and resources  to do the job, but 30% are on the opposite side of that question. For Nielsen, which is in the data business, the findings seem to be a mixed bag of answers. 

“The marketers we spoke with and surveyed made it clear that it’s not more data they are looking for, rather better insight. They’re aflush with dashboards, yet only a quarter are highly confident in ROI measurement,” Nielsen’s report says.

In an introductory letter to the report, Eric Solomon, senior vice president of marketing and strategy for Nielsen Watch, writes, “Over the last 18 months, some of the largest and most influential advertisers in the world have spoken up about their concerns with digital advertising, calling the supply chain ‘broken’ and pointing to high incidence of fraud and lack of brand safety.”

The mix of spending on traditional media and digital media is changing, and to measure it Nielsen calculated the mean average of responses. By that, it concludes traditional media averages 36.6% of total advertising spend compared with digital, which represents 37.6%. 

Social media tops on the food chain

Among digital media types, 79% think social media is tops on the food chain, compared to 73% for search (and search gets high marks through most of this report). Less important is mobile display (44%) and, last of all, over-the-top/connected TV which only 23% feel is a “extremely important” or “very important” part of the digital constellation at this point. Nielsen points out that OTT is a the new kid on the digital block, and the findings support that.

In terms of effectiveness, social media and search both top that list, too, with a matching 69% of respondents rating them effective, compared to 60% for mobile, 54% for programmatic and 28% for OTT.

The report says that 55% of its respondents allocate at least 40% of their ad budget to traditional (TV, print, radio, etc) media, with one in ten giving 80% or more. But 49% say digital media makes up at least 40% of its spend, with 19% spending 80% or more 

Compared to traditional media, these CMOs felt somewhat satisfied with their ability to measure ROI from digital media, with 48% claiming to “somewhat confident” of the data they receive and 26% expressing high levels of confidence. Only 36% were “somewhat confident” of ROI data from traditional media sources like TV and 42% expressing a high level of skepticism. 

The mix of spending on traditional media and digital media is changing, but Nielsen calculated the mean average of responses to determine traditional media averages 36.6% of total advertising spend compared with digital, which represents 37.6%. The report say traditional media budgets continue to keep pace with those of digital media.

Nielsen separately asks the same kinds of questions of marketers about “walled garden” advertising environments like Facebook, Google and Amazon, and there too, the biggest percentage of responses shows a middle level of satisfaction and perceived ROI. Nielsen anonymously quotes some CMOs complaining about inconsistent methodology and “constantly changing rules in performance” among those giant ad platforms.

All in all, 44% say they’re satisfied with their relationship with walled garden companies with another 26% expressing higher levels of approval, and 32% who weren’t that enthused at all.

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