NEW YORK: Most advertisers are still falling short when it comes to leveraging "big data" and measuring return on investment, new research has revealed.

The Center of Global Brand Leadership, part of Columbia Business School, the New York American Marketing Association, the trade body, and Research Now, the panel provider, polled 253 executives to discuss these issues.

They found that marketers are most adept at collecting more traditional forms of data, with 74% tracking demographics, 64% monitoring transactions and 60% tracing consumer usage.

By contrast, only 35% boasted similar access to social media content created by current and target customers, while 33% had established links between these two groups, and 19% collated insights from the raft of metrics now available via mobile phones.

Despite these apparent failings, 91% of marketers agreed data was becoming increasingly vital to optimising decision making.

Elsewhere, 51%  of interviewees also revealed that a failure to systematically share such information between different business units had limited attempts to prove marketing payback.

Further limitations included an inability to translate such information into personalised messages on 45%, insufficient granularity of detail on 42% and the absence of relevant or real-time data on 39%.

Similarly, 60% of the featured companies found comparing the return on investment from difficult digital channels "a major challenge", and 70% desired a "cross-platform model" to achieve this.

When determining marketing budgets, only 43% of brand owners did so based on ROI analysis, whereas 68% utilised "historical spending" and 28% still relied on "gut instinct".

Overall, a modest 45% of corporations agreed they were "satisfied" with their capabilities when it came to measuring marketing payback.

More specifically, 82% did not consider all aspects of spending and returns when discussing this matter, and 37% did not consider financial effects at all when assessing ROI.

Figures on the latter metric fell to 17% for mobile marketing and 14% for similar efforts on social networks, measured against 41% for email campaigns and 47% for direct mail.

"The overall picture of marketing by large corporations revealed significant need for improvements in the use of data, the measurement of digital marketing, and the assessment of marketing ROI," the study concluded.

Data sourced from Center of Global Brand Leadership; additional content by Warc staff