NEW YORK: Most major brands in the US are likely to heighten their focus on platforms such as social media and mobile this year, but concerns over measurement remain for many companies.

Datran, the digital marketing specialist, surveyed 5,000 marketing executives drawn from Fortune 500 companies, leading publishers and prominent advertising and media agencies.

It found that there was "significant optimism" among its panel regarding prospective communications expenditure levels this year, following on from a decline in budgets in 2009.

When asked to identify the most successful marketing mediums employed last year, 39.4% of contributors selected email, with search on 23.6% and offline media on 9.4%.

Online display recorded a rating of 7.1% on this metric, with direct mail on 6.3%, social media on 4.7% and mobile on just 0.8%.

In terms of the specific strengths of the internet, participants argued it was most effective in terms of reaching a brand's target audience, generating high-quality leads and converting these potential customers into sales.

A majority of respondents also regarded this medium as playing an important role in improving overall retention rates, while around four in ten said it helped them to avoid "wasting" their media spend.

Looking ahead, nearly 60% of industry specialists believed digital would take over half of all budgets set aside for multichannel campaigns this year.

The specific tactics that will be implemented on the web in this period included targeting according to 77.6%, analytics and measurement on 71.2%, retention and loyalty campaigns on 63.2% and content creation on 54.4%.

Over two-thirds of industry specialists plan to make greater use of online video, while almost half will leverage the net for awareness-building, and a third will build "apps" for services such as Facebook.

A further 54.4% of executives intend to optimise their marketing messages and/or websites for devices like the iPhone, with 20.5% not likely to do so, and 25% "unsure" on this measure.

With regard to social media, 72% of firms had established a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but only 50.4% of those polled believed this channel would generate a quantifiable return on investment in 2010.

Such an obstacle applied to online measurement more broadly, with 29.5% of the cohort as a whole agreeing it was difficult to secure accurate data, while 23.2% said they were often not able to act on the insights acquired.

Indeed, 26.4% of corporations did not currently have procedures in place through which to track the performance of any of their activities in this area.

Despite this, 75.2% of marketers, advertisers and publishers expected the share of their outlay allocated to digital to "steadily increase" up to 2014, with 18.4% suggesting this figure would "greatly increase".

Data sourced from Datran; additional content by Warc staff