LONDON: Almost seventy per cent of major marketers worldwide who advertise online admit to uncertainty that they actually get what they pay for. That percentage increases to 75% in the United Kingdom and 78% in North America.

Moreover, 68% of the three thousand business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing professionals polled "didn't know" if they could trust the visitor/traffic profiles claimed by online media owners and publishers.

The latest data from the Fournaise Marketing Group's Global Marketing Effectiveness Report 2007 belies the ongoing tsunami of hype emanating from the online marketing industry.

And despite a recent forecast that online ad revenues will hit $147 billion (€93.27bn; £73.43bn) by 2012, the Fournaise report reveals that marketers appear to have a major trust issue when it comes to the overall reliability and credibility of online ads. 

Their top five concerns?

  1. They don't know if they actually get what they pay for.
  2. They don't know if they can trust the visitor and/or traffic profile online media owners and publishers claim their sites have.
  3. They have the feeling there is a lot of click fraud.
  4. They don't know if their ads appear in the sites and/or sites' sections where they should appear.
  5. They don't trust the traffic and click-through reports digital media owners give them.
This could explain why 40% of marketers around the world did not run online campaigns in 2007, a figure reaching 65% in high GDP growth markets such as Greater China, India and Singapore. 

While looking ahead through 2008, marketers worldwide say they intend to take a prudent approach and spend only a small percentage of their marketing budgets online.

Comments Fournaise ceo Jerome Fontaine: "One of the main reasons for such poor results is that with more than 70% of the online campaigns we audit track across all types of online media platforms (display ads, emails, paid search, referrals, rich media and sponsorships), our clients did not get what they paid for.

"One million impressions purchased often ended up with 800,000 impressions served; an email blast to a third-party 10,000-record database was more often than not sent to a 7,000-active-email base.

"The bottom line: the discrepancy between what is claimed and/or purchased and what is actually delivered is beginning to cast a shadow on the long-term credibility of the industry.

"Online media have now the immense challenge of winning the trust and confidence of marketers and must be prepared to be audited and be accountable for the results they deliver."

Fontaine maintains that marketers look for two types of auditing when advertising online:

    (a) Independent auditing of what media owners and publishers claim about their medium in terms of audience profile and demographics, traffic data etc;

    (b) Independent auditing of the results of individual campaigns – actual number of impressions served, placement of ads, pay-per-click results, CTRs, CVRs etc.

He adds: "Online media platforms have the potential to grab a larger share of the marketing budget alongside traditional stalwarts such as newspapers and TV.

"They can be a powerful component of the communications mix and marketers will spend more of their budgets online if they have independent audit tracking of the results generated to ensure they truly got what they paid for, and if the results clearly contribute to the top and/or bottom line of the company.”

Data sourced from Fournaise Marketing Group; additional content by WARC staff