New Survey Reveals Majority of North American Marketers Plan Increase in ‘Outcome-Driven Media’ as Evaluating Effectiveness of Digital Media Investments Becomes More Difficult Over the Past Five Years

Findings show large majority of digital marketers are using at least one custom KPI easily linking digital media spend with measurable business results

A survey of 1,000 brand marketers in the US and 501 in Canada (download the Canadian report and Infographic) reveals that the vast majority (86%) are likely to increase their investment in ‘outcome-driven media’ in next 12-24 months to map their digital media investments much more closely to their ultimate marketing and business goals, a top priority for 2019. Almost eight out of ten (78% in both the US and Canada) said they would seek to work with outcome-driven media partners. The survey was commissioned by Xaxis, the Outcome Media Company and GroupM’s progressive programmatic media arm.

Outcome-driven media is a sophisticated marketing strategy that uses a combination of data-driven insights, market knowledge, technical prowess and partnership to engineer a custom media-proxy that is more aligned with the advertiser’s ultimate goals.

The research further highlights that linking digital media investment to business impact is critical for marketers and gives them a measurable advantage. Almost nine out of ten (87% in the US, and 84% in Canada) said they used one or more custom KPI to link the impact of digital display campaigns on ‘measurable business results’ and 86% in US and only 68% in Canada strongly or somewhat agreed that it was “essential for digital campaigns to drive a direct correlation.”


Eighty-six percent of brand marketers in Canada plan to increase their investment in ‘Outcome-Driven Media’ over the next 24-48 months. In September 2018, Xaxis commissioned a survey of 501 marketers in Canada* who are responsible for digital media spend. The goal was to assess marketers’ attitudes towards the metrics used to determine the success of their digital media strategies. The survey asked about traditional media metrics as well as outcome-driven media. The survey revealed the majority (86%) of brand marketers in Canada plan to increase their investment in ‘Outcome-Driven Media’ over the next 24-48 months. Additionally, almost the same amount (84%) are using at least one custom KPI to easily link digital media spend with measurable business results.

“As digital media spend has come under scrutiny over the past few years, the advertising ecosystem is now at a tipping point. The current media climate requires today’s marketers to justify that every dollar spent is tied to a tangible business result. With the exponential rise of data from platforms, formats, devices and users, finding the meaningful signals and understanding how they relate to each other is fundamental to success,” said Matt Sweeney, CEO of Xaxis North America. “Brands are looking for the guidance of partners who can engineer custom media solutions based on those insights and leverage innovative technologies (like AI) to amplify their efforts. The results of this survey give our industry a reason to be optimistic. Marketers are keeping an open mind and embracing new ways to leverage digital media for a measurable advantage.”

The same majority (80%) of marketers surveyed agreed that being able to link business objectives to digital media spend ‘positively impacted’ their marketing budget allocation and that understanding how media can meet business objectives allowed their organisation to have a measurable advantage over competitors

Currently, there is a mixed picture in how marketers view existing ways of measuring digital media success. An overwhelming majority in the US say they still use Click Through Rates (CTR), Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and Cost Per Click (CPC) as their top forms of metrics, while marketers in Canada use CPA, CPC and Cost Per Engagement (CPE) as their top metrics.

While 80% of marketers in both countries believe these primary metrics are either somewhat or very effective, 72% of US marketers and 64% of Canadian marketers are likely to change their primary metrics in the next 24-48 months, making it evident that marketers know they need to evolve the way they measure ad effectiveness in order to keep pace with the digital advertising industry. However, their clear barriers to doing so were identified as ‘Limited Budget and Resources’ or ‘Existing Metrics are Too Embedded with External Partners.’

When asked what their organizations’ priorities were for media investment in 2019, the answers varied for US and Canada. For US the top answer (53%) was ‘increase efficiency’ which ranked second for Canada (37%). Canada’s 2019 priority (41%) is ‘effective allocation of resources’, the third priority for the US behind ‘demonstrating that marketing strategy aligns with business objectives’ (42%).

The research, part of a global survey of 16 markets by Xaxis, GroupM’s advanced programmatic arm, assessed how satisfied marketers were with their existing success metrics for digital display campaigns, and especially with how they are linked to strategic business and marketing goals. It also asked what the main barriers were to moving to new metrics, and whether they were planning to increase investment in ‘outcome-driven media’. This was defined as “planning and optimizing campaigns against KPIs – often tailor-made for an advertiser or campaign – that are much more closely aligned to the marketer’s ultimate marketing and business goals”. The survey was conducted via an online survey in September 2018 among 4,798 digital brand marketers across global markets: US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, India, and Singapore.

Nicolas Bidon, global CEO of Xaxis, commented: “The research clearly demonstrates that outcome-driven media is a key priority for marketers moving into 2019, with a continuing focus on proving the link between digital media investment and business success. The research sends a clear message to the industry that, when business objectives are linked to digital spend, there is a positive uplift on budgets to enable those businesses to secure greater competitive advantage.”

The research was conducted via an online survey in September 2018 among 4,798 digital brand marketers across 16 key global markets: US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Australia, China, India, and Singapore.

Xaxis is The Outcome Media Company

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. We combine unique brand-safe media access, unrivalled programmatic expertise, and 360-degree data with proprietary artificial intelligence to help global brands achieve the outcomes they value from their digital media investments. Xaxis offers managed programmatic services in 47 markets, including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

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