LONDON: Trend-happy marketers, eager to jump the online social networking bandwagon, should be wary of doing so without adequate measurement tools in place, warns online specialist JupiterResearch.

According to the researcher, less than one-quarter (24%) of advertisers using so-called 'engagement' tactics measure to what extent - or even whether - users interact with their online ads.

A curious situation given that a majority of European online advertisers - more than one-half - used tactics and media intended to increase user interaction in the last year.

And the growth curve will continue through 2007, with almost two-thirds of online advertisers planning to use engagement tactics.

In a new report, Social Marketing in Europe: Creating and Measuring User Engagement, Jupiter recommends a framework that will allow advertisers to easily and effectively measure their success in engaging users.

Although viral marketing campaigns will remain the most popular form of engagement marketing, use of tactics that engage users even more deeply (profiles on social networking sites, and ads that encourage users to contribute photos and videos to marketer's sites) will grow relatively more quickly.

Says Jupiter president David Schatsky: "As marketers increasingly try to reach consumers through social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, as well as video sites like YouTube and DailyMotion, they should turn to their online ad agencies for help gauging the success of these efforts."

Then comes the pitch clincher: "In turn, agencies and ad servers must develop benchmarks and proxies to discover and prove the relationship between technology-based measurements and traditional brand impact surveys."

Data sourced from Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff