Advertising ROI still elusive metric

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Defining return on an advertising investment appears to be no more concrete than when the issue came to the fore more than two years ago, according to a survey by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research that found more than 15 applicable definitions.

Based on an email survey of its 300 members, the ANA found no consensus on how to measure or define ROI in marketing. The average respondent identified almost half of the ANA's definitions as pertinent and said definitions of ROI differed within their own organizations.

ongoing research

The study commenced in April and had 54 respondents, though the ANA continues to collect results. It found 85% of respondents reported difficulty in responding quickly to ROI data, while almost half said data is not sufficiently detailed. The study was unveiled at last week's ANA Marketing Accountability Forum in New York City.

Michael Lotito, CEO of Media IQ, a New York media auditing company, said the fact that opinions vary is irrelevant as long as a company internally agrees on what it wants. He said that while many marketers talk about ROI, few actually track it.

"ROI is the Holy Grail. You want to know how your marketing dollars are working for you," he said. "People are at the beginning of the journey, not the middle and not the end."

He and others said the issue of ROI has become more visible in the past two years since the ad recession started and the cost of TV advertising continued to rise.

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