Digital metrics and measurement was a prime concern of many in the marketing industry, Warc’s latest annual ranking of its most read research papers has revealed.

The number one paper for 2016, in terms of overall views from Warc subscribers, was In the Digital World, Not Everything That Can Be Measured Matters, a paper from the Journal of Advertising Research, authored by Shareablee’s Tanya Yuki.

The report discussed a study that tracked the 2,000 most-shared social posts over a 12-month period on Facebook and then surveyed more than 10,000 social-media users about what might drive them to share that content online. From this, the paper revealed psychological drivers that prompt sharing - a topic relevant to brands that post on social media.

Another article from JAR was number two on the rankings. How to Distinguish "Valuable" from "Nice to Know" among Measures of Consumer Engagement, from Gian Fulgoni of comScore, suggested that each digital tool creates a different set of means to measure consumer engagement, from 'softer' measures like brand recall and likeability to 'harder' measures such as sales lifts.

It added that the challenge for marketers is to identify the metrics that matter to their return on advertising investment versus things that are nice to know or even downright misleading.

Long-term effects of marketing actions, authored by Michael Hess of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, was Warc’s third most-viewed research paper of 2016. This article provided an overview of the longer term effects of marketing actions and argues that strategic marketing decision making needs to account for both the short-term and long-term effects of marketing.

Two more media-led papers rounded out the top five. Firstly, Resisting the Siren Call of Popular Digital Media Measures, from Brad Smallwood of Facebook and published in JAR, argued that how marketers need to ignore simply using eye-catching metrics and focus on reorganising their organisation around an impact-led analysis of the data available.

In fifth place was an ESOMAR paper from Christian Kugel of AOL. Best practices with content marketing: What normative data says about effectiveness showed that many brands are falling short with measuring their content marketing efforts - though the channel tends to drive “significant” increases in brand affinity, consideration and interest in learning more among readers.

Data sourced from Warc