BRUSSELS: Many brand owners are struggling to deal with the "torrent of data" resulting from the rapid growth of digital media, according to research by the World Federation of Advertisers and Warc.

A survey of 25 firms, collectively responsible for $35bn in worldwide marketing expenditure per year found 56% were tracking between five and ten digital key performance indicators (KPIs). An infographic providing a breakdown of the survey findings is available here)

Elsewhere, 24% of businesses monitored 10–15 different indicators, while 8% measured some 16–20. Another 12%, however, relied on fewer than five such figures.

Over the entire panel, 72% of respondents agreed the current "data load" was largely suitable, whereas 20% believed too much material is gathered at present.

When it comes to understanding digital performance, a 68% majority of the sample deployed the "paid, owned and earned" model or planned to do so going forward.

Brand strategy was the number one driver for identifying the appropriate measures of success, mentioned by 82% of contributors.

The primary obstacles to obtaining the desired evidence of payback included insufficient resources on 74% and a lack of know-how among marketers on 70%.

Discernible "gaps in online ROI expertise" logged 57% here, while 50% of interviewees pointed to the amount of data sources used as a "barrier" to better measurement.

Exactly 75% of organisations employ specific tracking tools for social media, although a shortage of funds and confusion regarding the precise products available for this task often posed problems.

Targeting fans, sentiment analysis and determining engagement levels were the priority metrics on sites like Facebook. By contrast, clickthroughs, traffic levels, requests and registrations predominate on the web as a whole.

More broadly, the report suggested many firms risked "death by dashboard", as a considerable number utilised more than ten such systems globally.

Developing aggregated dashboards was thus among the main goals for the next year, alongside standardising metrics across markets and linking performance indicators to sales.

"The challenge of managing and creating business opportunity from big data has really only just started and it will be critical to business success in the future," said Stephan Loerke, the WFA's managing director, said.

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers and Warc