BOSTON: Brands are significantly less confident in their use of data than agencies and media owners, but all three admit they face challenges in measuring ROI, according to a new study from Millward Brown.

The Getting Digital Right report was based on input from more than 300 senior US marketers spanning brands, media companies and agencies. And it found that more than half (55%) of marketers weren't confident in their organisation's understanding of the consumer journey.

While brands' confidence in the use of big data had increased since last year, it remained low at 41%; this compared to 59% of media owners and 60% of agency respondents.

The difficulty of proving ROI emerged as one of the biggest challenges, as respondents from every branch of the industry expected that the biggest increase in spend on research tools would be for sales linkage/ROI studies.

In fact, 74% of marketers indicated they would increase spending on digital if there was an increased ability to track ROI.

Cross-channel campaigns posed a similar problem, as 71% were prepared to spend more here if the return on investment could be proved.

They were more secure in the ROI obtained from traditional channels, however, where just 43% were looking for the same justification.

"This year's study shows promising improvement in a few metrics, but highlights that our industry has work to do to maximise opportunities to better understand consumer behaviours and the moments where marketers can best engage," said Stephen DiMarco, President, Millward Brown Digital.

Marketers' confidence that they are using the right media mix increased slightly. But while the percentage claiming to have achieved the optimal media mix between traditional and digital was up marginally on last year, the proportion expressing doubt saw even greater growth.

Data sourced from Millward Brown; additional content by Warc staff