Determining the right digital marketing mix is a challenge for dealers, but it’s also challenging to the more than 250 marketing professionals surveyed for a new study conducted by PointRoll, a King of Prussia, Pa.-based marketing technology firm, and New York-based Kelton Research.

Ninety-seven percent of marketing professionals surveyed said they like the fact that they can track and target their audiences through online ads. But they also admitted they’re still trying to determine their digital sweet spot. The challenge has forced some marketing execs to rethink their method of tracking ROI, with nearly two in five marketing and ad execs indicating that they are dissatisfied with their current method.

“It is very difficult to match the period in which the investment dollars are spent with the impact with our target,” the report read, quoting a respondent. “This difficulty in timing/matching is made more difficult the longer the campaign lasts.”

The challenge the report highlights is one reason nearly half of respondents stated a bulk of their marketing and advertising budgets supported traditional efforts in 2011. More than half of those surveyed predicted little change in their budgets this year.

As for where they expect to direct their advertising dollars, more than one in five marketers think social media (24 percent), search advertising (24 percent) and display advertising (22 percent) will be the most popular this year. Far fewer felt the same way about e-mail (1 percent) or text-message (1 percent) marketing.

Marketers also plan to put money behind efforts that focus on reaching their audience through popular sites and technology, with about 79 percent indicating that they expect to increase spending on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, 75 percent of respondents said they expect to increase ad spending on mobile devices, while 66 percent said they expect to increase spending on tablet marketing ads.

Online video advertising also is expected to be hot this year: Ninety-seven percent of respondents predicted they will use this tool. The most popular formats cited are in-banner (60 percent), in-stream (49 percent) and dynamic or customized video ads (42 percent).

However, the study warns against using too many tools. One-third of survey respondents admitted that optimizing channels or tools last year prevented them from doing their job as well as they could.

“With so many tools to reach various audiences today, it’s hard to narrow these options down to just a few,” the report stated. “Respondents report an average of six marketing and advertising tools are now being used in a single campaign.

“Ultimately, utilizing too many tools and juggling vast amounts of vendors can lead to underperformance and burnout.”