LONDON/CHICAGO: Digital marketing is far from perfect in terms of measurement and execution, but there are a number of solutions that marketers can adopt to maximise their return on investment (ROI), according to a leading industry figure.

Gian Fulgoni, co-founder and executive chairman emeritus of comScore, highlighted four particular areas where marketers need to take care, which he outlined in an article for Warc's ongoing Best Practice series.

Starting with click rates on display ads, Fulgoni said: "Clicks today are at best an incomplete – and at worst a misleading – effectiveness metric."

He said that instead of using click-through rates, which have been shown to have no statistical relationship with campaign effectiveness, it is far better to measure directly the attitudinal and/or behavioural changes that occur among consumers exposed to a digital display ad campaign.

Another problem facing digital marketers is that cookie-based measurement of the number of unique visitors to a website can overstate the true number by up to two or three times.

To overcome the problem, Fulgoni recommended that digital marketers adopt third party campaign measurement tools, including those that use people panels, just as they should with their efforts to measure click rates accurately.

Third party measurement using person-level panels is also needed to gauge the accuracy of targeted ad campaigns, he said, and this is particularly the case with ad-targeting that relies on cookies.

"In the case of demographic targeting using cookies, one particular challenge is that multiple people can use the same desktop computer," he said.

"The cookie is a browser-based identification and can't identify who is using the computer at any point in time. As a result, gender and age-based targeting errors can easily occur when campaigns are targeted using cookies."

The fourth vulnerability facing marketers is the thorny issue of ad viewability. This was never thought to be a problem until research from comScore showed that slightly more than 50% of digital ads were never in view to the consumer – even though they were paid for by advertisers.

Fulgoni said that ad buyers need to factor this into their negotiations with sellers and are advised to use a variety of third party campaign measurement tools to accurately identify the degree to which ads are in-view.

Digital advertisers also need to be extra vigilant when buying ads on open programmatic exchanges where there can be a high degree of fraud. Fulgoni said it would be "prudent to require some form of audience guarantee" during the bid.

Data sourced from Warc