Qualitatively speaking, I agree, it is very hard to judge a brake pad's performance, especially when there is no baseline of comparison. My comments reflect the timeframe when you have just changed your pads out and can notice the difference between the old and the new. I found the difference to be noticeable but not significant and you completely adjust to the different feel within a short time. One thing I did not mention is that I believe the "feel" of a brake pad will change slightly over time. Again, impossible to quantify and nearly impossible to qualitatively describe, however, I find my Euros to feel "better" (more like OEM) over time. I did not get this change with the Axxis. Probably my imagination, just like hearing the difference after a Vanos seal change, as I am clearly no Michael Schumacher.
NLECTC performs various product evaluations for law enforcement so their brake pad evaluations are primarily applicable to police applications. Unless you engage in high speed pursuits, track your car, or live high on a mountaintop, the first most heavily weighted test (high operating temp and fade resistance) does not really apply to most casual street drivers. The last three tests are most applicable to casual street drivers, however, these test result components do not appear to be extractable from their data. Hence, their pad recommendations are not really applicable to the casual driver.
The recent Car & Driver has a good article on brake pad failure on a sporty street Nissan that was tracked. This stock car used Akebonos which completely failed due to repeated high speed braking applications. This is an extreme example as they were able to make their brake fluid BOIL! Note: e39s use Type IV brake fluid so this is less of a risk for us!
Bottom line: Folks should set up their brakes for how they will be used. For casual drivers like myself, low dust is my priority followed by performance. For a state trooper or track car, a different brake setup (pads, rotors, fluid, etc.) is probably desirable to maximize safety.