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Brands in India are allocating up to one third of their marketing budgets to digital, a new study has claimed, although measuring return on investment remains a challenge.

The finding appeared in the Digital Marketing Industry Report 2016, from digital marketing agency Social Beat, which was based on a survey of 376 chief marketing officers and marketing heads representing a range of industry sectors across India.

Fully 87% of brands now use digital, according to the study, with 38% per cent of them allocating a third of their budget to this channel, reported; the addition of television and print provides a “360-degree approach”.

Social Beat cofounder Suneil Chawla noted that “around 10% of brands surveyed spend more than Rs. 1 crore annually on digital marketing while around 50% spend more than Rs. 6 Lakhs annually … and 20% of brands plan to increase their digital marketing spends by 25% in the next financial year”.

Social media marketing, search engine optimisation, content marketing and email are the main techniques utilised in online marketing.

And as regards the first of these, Facebook (89%) and Google (78%) were the most popular platforms, followed by Twitter (56%) and LinkedIn (51%).

YouTube (51%) has also gained in importance, as the growing penetration of smartphones is accompanied by faster internet connectivity and the production of interesting video content.

Marketers appear to be using digital mainly to drive short-term business objectives. “While brand awareness and lead generation/sales seem to be the primary goals set by the CMOs, digital marketing is increasingly being leveraged for customer engagement (46%) and customer service (35%) too,” said Vikas Chawla, co-founder of Social Beat.

“Most of the CMOs that took the survey felt that there is a lot of scope for improvement in quality lead generation, result tracking and creative campaigns,” he added.

Tracking return on investment (ROI) emerged as the biggest challenge for digital marketers, who were using sales/leads, engagement, brand reach and mentions as the metrics to track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Warc’s current forecast for Indian digital ad expenditure in 2016 (due to be revised next month) stands at INR50.9bn, a 40.8% rise from 2015.

Data sourced from, Exchange4Media; additional content by Warc staff