Media KPIs That Matter: the gap between what’s important and what is done

Producers & Procurers iQ listened in on Tom Denford and David Indo’s recent MediaSnack Live webinar, which highlighted the recent ANA findings on how media KPIs can be done better.

Stepping Up

“Today’s media leaders find themselves with an incredible opportunity to step up and become true business partners who are key drivers of growth versus just cost containment managers of large spends” — Charlie Chappell, VP of media at The Hershey Company

As the first report that’s been published exclusively around KPIs, the ANA Media Leadership Growth Council report, Media KPIs That Matter, brings together leaders in the field and identifies the direct connection between KPIs and actual business results. This aims to form the basis of ongoing work and the Council’s growth agenda.

In the recent ID Comms’ MediaSnack Live Youtube webinar, Tom Denford and David Indo delve into the findings and implications of the recent report.

The Data

In the survey, conducted in January and February 2021 to members of the ANA Media Leadership Committee and Digital & Social Media Committee, the ANA asked participants two key questions: what were the most important KPIs for media, and what were the most used ones for media?

In total, thirty-nine KPIs were identified, and the Council grouped these into six categories: Audience Measurement, Efficiency, Exposure Counting, Measurement Quality, Outcome and Other.

The results found that the most important KPIs for media are mostly based on outcome and measurement quality. These KPIs include ROI/ROAS, brand safety metrics, customer lifetime value, and conversion.

In contrast, the most used KPIs for media according to their findings are primarily efficiency and media exposure KPIs. These include CPM, CPC, unique reach, and viewable impressions.

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Regarded as “industry staples” by the Council, CPMs are also more ‘counting KPIs’ than they are quality focused. Interestingly, they are also ranked 22nd in terms of importance and yet are ranked as the most used.


A key point that Denford highlighted during his live webinar was that a common thread throughout the industry is one of false economy; it appears marketing teams are buying things because they are cheap rather than because they are good. As a result, there is a culture of waste, where advertising loses value and integrity, and CPM can dilute agency relations. This means that the focus won’t necessarily be where the ads are being placed, but rather that they are getting impressions.

As touched on in the report itself, this is no longer appropriate for an increasingly digital world. Indeed, ecommerce has completely reframed the way we need to think about media spend, and the ANA estimates that digital media now accounts for 56% of all global advertising spending: making it an even more pressing area to get right.

As a Chief Media Officer at one of the ANA Member Company states in the report, “As the media landscape continues to evolve, we have both new ways to track key metrics and challenges in measuring what has been ‘tried and true’. Marketers must have a relentless focus on tracking, measuring, and analyzing to refine their understanding of what drives growth”.

This point is also echoed by an unnamed interviewee who highlighted the nuanced approach needed with cost per impression measurements: “CPMs need to be relevant, as lower isn’t always better. CPM isn’t the first thing to look at because it’s more of a tracking/efficiency KPI. It needs to be augmented with more specific metrics.”

In fact, the Council actually recommends that there could be an opportunity to increase the use of quality KPIs, which would address the fact that media investments are increasingly being held to account for driving results.


Focusing on the implications of the report, Indo emphasises a key takeaway that “we have the people in the room who are going to make the change”; this is crucial in having an immediate, but also long-lasting, impact. As intuitive as it sounds, by having a Council made up of the decision makers, decisions will ultimately be made.

Because the report is also free from the point of access, marketers at all levels can learn a lot from its finding and apply it into practice. It empowers marketers and media buyers to take control of their decision making processes and start shifting away from CPMs as a driving KPI.

Aside from the industry benefits of rethinking KPIs, it is also good from an individual leadership level. In fact, as Indo explains, when media dollars become outcome focused, it invites more levels of leadership to “lean in”. This gives the media director an immense level of power to influence the narrative around KPIs and steer the business direction.

As Charlie Chappell, VP of media at The Hershey Company, urges, “Today’s media leaders find themselves with an incredible opportunity to step up and become true business partners who are key drivers of growth versus just cost containment managers of large spends”.

Therefore, both Indo and Denford believe that this report is optimistic for the future and signals a tide is shifting for KPIs and their utility for marketers and business growth.

You can watch the full webinar here. The full list of the 39 KPIs, as well as the full report, can also be found here.

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