NEW YORK: The unique tracking and measuring facilities of digital advertising may paradoxically be slowing its growth, several leading industry figures have argued.

Marco Bertozzi, executive managing director of Vivaki EMEA, a supplier of digital advertising solutions, warned that the industry risked "measuring itself into the ground".

He told Digiday he was initially excited by the possibilities offered by digital ad tracking before realising that "just because we could measure it, it was not necessarily a good thing".

"Digital has benefited from the ability to measure," he said, "but is not clear on what it wants to be across one channel or KPI to the next, leaving us an inability to draw some straight lines."

He compared this situation with that of traditional media: "Whatever happens, an advertiser roughly knows that when they spend $10m on TV or print, they will see their sales increase. We have not got there in digital."

The promise of efficiency held out by digital, unlike television, means that advertisers constantly expect better performance and that online ad prices are being driven down.

"If it was harder to measure, investment in digital would be bigger," suggested David Williams, chief executive of CRM agency Merkle. "I think at this point it's clear that in some ways measurement has stifled the growth of digital," he added.

Television metrics also enjoy the benefit of broad brush simplicity, while those of digital become ever more granular, a process that some argue results in a focus on the weaknesses of the channel.

"The lesson from TV is, sell a metric that's positive and stop screwing around with metrics that essentially say how we're not doing a good job," said Todd Sawicki, president of Zemanta, a content partnership business.

Data sourced from Digiday; additional content by Warc staff