NEW YORK: Targeting is key to digital advertising but only half of companies validate that their display and digital video campaigns actually reach the intended audience new research has shown.

Forbes Insights, in association with Quantcast, polled 304 senior global marketing executives for its report Reaching the Right Audience: How Brands Are Using Audience Targeting in Digital Advertising.

This found that around half of the companies surveyed always validated that their digital campaigns were being put in front of the right audience: 51% for display ad campaigns and 46% for digital video ad campaigns.

On a more positive note, however, 85% expected the frequency with which they validated these campaigns to increase over the next three years.

Audience guarantees, inherited from television buying practices, do not yet have a strong hold but marketers more likely to work with media sellers who offer it.

Half of all companies (53%) reported that between a quarter and a half of their demographic targeted video spend included an audience guarantee, but marketers recognise its importance. Fully 86% of surveyed companies said they were significantly/somewhat more likely to buy video inventory from a media seller that offers audience guarantees.

These trends towards validation and guarantees might have been expected, given the level of investment in audience targeting. Currently, 90% of companies spend at least a quarter of their digital advertising budgets on specific targets, while 43% spend more than half.

Again, most companies (84%) expected that investment would only increase, as they valued the relevance and effectiveness that comes as part of the equation and which have made display and digital video a key component of branding campaigns.

"This report underlines the importance of a strong digital presence," said Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and head of the CMO Practice for Forbes Media.

"Digital offers advantages over traditional media when it comes to precise targeting and measurability," he added.

But those advantages come with their own set of problems. Some 54% of North American companies and 76% of EMEA companies cited the biggest challenge for audience targeting as identifying the proper personas.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff