Marketers appear to be confusing metrics when it comes to measuring the success of content campaigns, new research has concluded.

Content-driven marketing is highly valued by marketers for driving brand engagement, the survey by the World Media Group found, but appropriate brand-engagement measures are rarely set as central KPIs.

The World Media Group – a strategic alliance between major publishers, including Bloomberg Media Group, The Economist, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal – surveyed key influencers across advertisers, agencies, media brands and consultants.

It found 49% of marketers (60% of advertisers) believe ‘brand engagement’ – getting consumers to spend more time with the brand – is content’s main strength. Brand engagement ranks significantly higher than ‘changing perceptions’ at 28%, and ‘building awareness’ at 17%.

Despite this, marketers are more likely to use awareness and perception measures, rather than engagement metrics such as ‘time spent with content’ to measure a campaign’s success.

An overwhelming number of marketers (78%) expect content marketing to rise in importance over the next 24 months, researchers found.

‘Story’ is seen as the number one determinant of a content-led campaign’s success by 71% of those quizzed. This was followed by authenticity (62%), and creative execution (38%).

The study found that the biggest trend over the next year would be the use of short-form video (under 60 seconds), with 69% of those surveyed saying they would be using more of it. This is seen as a challenge for agencies and brands who face the task of creating and telling compelling stories in such a brief time.

Some of those surveyed argued this is the wrong approach to consumer engagement, and that more informative and entertaining content is a better solution.

Other trend forecasts include more editorial-style content (58%), and an increase in posting on social media, anticipated by 56% of those surveyed.

Longer term, it is virtual reality and augmented reality that most excite marketers. These were followed by audio, podcast and voice-related content.

However, the availability of VR and related techniques currently comes last when it comes to factors contributing to the selection of a media partner – it was named only by 3% of respondents. Top of the list, at 72%, was the provision of a credible editorial environment, followed by quality of audience engagement (65%), and audience profile (63%).

Sourced from World Media Group; additional content by WARC staff