It is clear that digital marketing is becoming more and more prevalent and popular in the marketing industry, but is it also possible that the discipline is recession proof? A recent survey conducted on behalf of PRWeek and Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L) by Millward Brown indicates that just may be the case: Despite weakened economic conditions, over 75 percent of senior marketers say they expect spending for new media and online initiatives to increase in the next year.
The survey, which polled 252 U.S. chief marketing officers, VPs of marketing and marketing directors and managers, focused on digital and consumer generated media, marketing ethics and the role of public relations in the marketing mix.
When asked, by discipline, if they expected spending to increase, decrease, or remain the same in the coming year, 75 percent of marketers say they expect spending for digital programs to increase, 21 percent say budgets will remain the same, and only 4 percent expect digital spending to decrease.
But marketers appear less bullish about other major marketing disciplines: far fewer (33 percent) expect advertising budgets to increase, while 48 percent say they will remain the same, and 20 percent expect a decrease. Public relations spending may be slightly more stable, with 37 percent anticipating spending more, a majority (52 percent) expecting to spend the same, and just 11 percent expecting a decrease.
Marketers also overwhelmingly agree that they would be “most likely” to cut from many other disciplines before turning to digital if forced to scale back budgets as a result of poor economic conditions. Advertising is cited as the most likely to be cut (35 percent), followed by point-of-sale marketing (29 percent), public relations (16 percent) and direct marketing (16 percent).
Digital, on the other hand, is at the bottom of the list, with only 4 percent of respondents indicating they would be most likely to cut from this area.
According to the survey, consumer generated media (CGM) continues to make inroads among marketers. When asked which marketing discipline they anticipate being their top priority over the next 6-12 months, nearly three in ten (28 percent) mention CGM despite its relative newness as an application.
And marketers view CGM as a tool for supporting brand and reputation: More than six in 10 say CGM is important for creating brand awareness (68 percent), building brands (64 percent), and being perceived as an innovator (60 percent). A sizeable proportion of marketers even tie CGM directly to ROI, with 43 percent saying it is important to sales.
Just last year, most marketers were unwilling to invest in consumer generated media. Only 12 percent of respondents from the 2007 Marketing Management Survey said that CGM was very important to their marketing platforms, and just 22 percent said they were “very willing” to let consumers play a significant role in shaping their marketing programs. This year, if marketers stated they are unwilling to invest in this area it is mostly because the efforts are arduous to measure. Of those who would cut digital from a marketing budget, 46 percent of those respondents said there is a lack of ROI with digital/WOM and CGM, they are not as effective as other disciplines or they are difficult to measure.
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