Is current digital ad research adequate?

Only 5% of media and marketing professionals currently believe that the commercial research studies on digital advertising are of good enough quality.

The data, from a survey of 220 industry professionals carried out by Inskin Media, found that 57% thought that the commercial needs of the company owning the research is the biggest obstacle to the production of useful content.

23% reported that most of the time they disregard commercial research projects, with 19% considering the majority of them to be absolutely useless to them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is research agencies were regarded as producing the highest quality research content, while media buyers and media sellers were regarded as producing the worst kind of content.

“The industry has been deluged by studies on digital advertising over the last decade, most of which is used as a Trojan horse to promote a sales agenda,” said Steve Doyle, Inskin Media’s CCO.

“Unfortunately, much of it isn’t fit for purpose and it’s tended to tar everyone with the same brush. Paradoxically, it’s also created the problem of undermining genuine findings even if the company doing the research has a commercial interest in proving them, so the results are mistakenly ignored.”

Doyle also added that he was well aware of the “irony of producing a research study saying research quality is inadequate”.

Explaining the method

So, what is the current acres of commercial research failing to do? 61% of the survey respondents say that quality and detail are the most important factors in making research good content. 54% cited relevance as the most important factor.

A couple of suggestions really resonated with respondents as methods to try and improve the quality of commercial research. 71% said an independent industry body ‘seal of approval’ would be useful, while 70% would like to see detailed methodology sections become standard.

“The rise of online survey platforms means anyone with a few hundred pounds can produce one but hopefully the industry will start demanding far more rigour and detail about the methodology, as well as taking into greater account the agenda of the company producing it,” says Doyle.

“Indeed, the support for an independent seal of approval is reminiscent of what’s happened in Germany. The major trade bodies along with Google and Facebook launched ‘Qualitätsinitiative Werbewirkungsforschung’ – an initiative to increase transparency and quality in advertising effectiveness research.”

The media and marketing professionals surveyed prefer to hear research insights in face-to-face presentations (56%), with infographics (45%) and trade magazines (37%). Of all the methods cited, webinars were the least popular with 14%.  

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