NEW YORK: An over-reliance on clickthrough rates and cookies are among the issues which marketers must address to maximise their returns from digital marketing, according to a leading executive from comScore.

Gian Fulgoni – Chairman/Co-founder of the analytics company – discussed these topics during a recent Warc Webinar entitled Lessons learned in maximising the impact of digital advertising.

And he cited results from a comScore survey which asked ad networks, agencies, brands and publishers whether they used clicks to gauge the success of digital display ads.

"To my utter astonishment," Fulgoni said, "approximately – on average – 40% of each sector said 'almost always'." (For more, including further tips for brands, read Warc's exclusive report: Five digital marketing lessons from comScore.)

Such "astonishment" was partly based on the fact clickthrough rates in the US – expressed per thousand impressions – stand at 0.10%. But this metric also neglects the wider impact of digital display that has been shown by research.

"What's amiss is that these click rates aren't reflecting the effectiveness of the ads," said Fulgoni. "What we found is that there's no relationship between the click rates and the impact of the campaign."

A similar disjunction is often found between the promise of digital targeting and actual outcomes, with comScore data showing that – on average across categories – only 44% of ads reach members of the intended demographic.

"The reality is that it's not 100% accurate," Fulgoni stated. And cookies – the tracking tools placed on desktop devices – are a particular source of difficulty in this area.

Around 30% of consumers regularly delete cookies, with attendant problems including inaccurate estimates for unique visitors, reach and frequency – as well as an inability to distinguish between multiple users of a given device.

"Don't take the cookie-based number as truth," Fulgoni advised. "It's very important to know your agencies are aware of that and incorporating that reality into their media planning."

The other opportunities for progress discussed by Fulgoni spanned balancing search and display ads, issues relating to viewability and ad fraud, the challenge of understanding mobile and how to improve cross-platform measurement.

"Like anything in life, I think new technologies come with positives and negatives. And, as we've found in digital marketing, not everything that is claimed turns out to be 'as sold', if you will," he said.

Data sourced from Warc