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Nielsen Annual Marketing Report Finds Opportunity for Marketers to Align ROI Perception with Reality

3 minute read | January 2020

Marketers give newer digital channels the benefit of the doubt; Hold traditional channels to a higher standard

New York, NY – Jan. 14, 2019 – Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) today released its Annual Marketing Report: The Age of Dissonance. The report sheds new light on how marketers perceive the effectiveness of digital and traditional channels, if their perception is driven by measurement data they can trust, and what ultimately influences budget decisions. 

Consumers’ path to purchase is growing more fragmented by the day. Marketers need to know which channels will effectively reach consumers along their journey in order to create the marketing mix that works best. Yet Nielsen found that investments in channels are often driven by a sense of effectiveness that isn’t entirely grounded in reality, leading to wasted spend and missed opportunities.

The research, based on a Nielsen survey with marketers at more than 360 brands and agencies around the globe, found that:

  • Marketers hold digital channels to a different standard than traditional channels, despite lack of confidence in ROI. Digital channels are perceived to be effective and invite more spending, even when that effectiveness cannot be readily verified.
  • Data quality is a top priority for just 28% of respondents. Despite the benefits of using high quality data, data quality ranks low on the list of marketing priorities—well behind targeting, ad creative and reach. 
  • Marketers place a much higher priority on advertising than trade promotions. Most marketers discount the value of trade promotions, despite opportunities to use them to learn about their customers’ in-store purchase behaviors. 
  • Marketplace challenges are slowing the adoption of over-the-top (OTT) TV. To capitalize on the promise of OTT, brands must overcome internal knowledge gaps and partner with vendors to address measurement and media planning efficiency/ transparency concerns.
  • Marketers prioritize new customers over old. Despite the value of existing customers, the majority of marketers are focused on acquiring new customers and increasing branding awareness, with just 8% of marketers focused on reducing churn.

“Marketers are seeking greater accountability in today’s increasingly omni-channel landscape, yet we learned through this study that their investments in media are often driven by perception versus reality,” said Matt Krepsik, Global Head of Analytics, Nielsen. “The good news is that the industry is working hard to bring credible measurement solutions to market, not just to make sense of newer digital channels, but to provide comparable metrics across all channels. Only then can marketers think holistically and make smarter investments across the entire customer journey.”

The survey responses were collected between January and March 2019. The sample consists of 247 brand executives and 116 agency executives for a total of 363 respondents, with nearly 80% of participants at the Director-level and above.

For more key findings and recommendations for marketers, please download the report here.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit



Sarah Muratore