Click-through rates or CTRs, one of the most common metrics used to trade online advertising, are significantly undervaluing the brand performance of online campaigns.
Nielsen in a recent anlaysis said there is a need for marketers to use other metrics to gauge the effectiveness of online advertising.
According to the analysis, there is little correlation between online Click-through rates and off-line return on investment.
"Whilst the use of Click-through rates as a metric is still an effective means of measuring call-to-action campaigns, using the same metric to measure the success of a branding campaign is misleading and potentially dangerous," David Webb, Nielsen's managing director of Advertising Solutions in the APMEA Region, said.
There are a number of alternative metrics advertisers can tap into when they are looking to achieve broader brand benefits and these metrics will help them to assess campaigns which are intended to deliver their key message."
The Nielsen analysis, which combines meta-analysis and modeling from multiple marketing campaigns, also identified that campaigns which utilised both television and online channels generated an uplift in critical brand metrics including brand recall, message recall and likeability.
General brand recall metrics achieved an average of 22% increase where television campaigns were run in parallel with online campaigns, whilst brand recall achieved an uplift of 50% on average and message recall and likeability both achieved a 67% hike on average.
Importantly, Nielsen noted that the brand metrics most likely to improve as a result of cross-platform advertising are also the metrics which have been most closely linked to increased sales.
"The results from this analysis are helping to shine new light on how digital marketing, especially those which leverage cross-platform, can have a direct impact on consumers' purchasing decisions," Webb said.
"To date, marketers have been reluctant to invest in digital marketing due to a lack of clarity around the brand benefits and direct return on investment. Analysis such as this is addressing that lack of insight."
In another finding, Nielsen's challenged the widely-accepted view that online campaigns should be capped at between three to five impressions, saying that extended online campaigns with a higher number of impressions (in particular those with eight or more impressions) achieve a stronger lift in brand performance metrics.
The analysis also explored the effectiveness of online video content and identified online video ad campaigns which featured prior to long-form video content or online television replays generated higher engagements levels amongst audiences.
Overall, in terms of return on investment, Nielsen's meta-analysis revealed a clear lead for digital media over traditional media, with internet marketing providing a return of US$1.29 for every dollar spent and other forms of digital marketing providing as much as US$1.48 return.