Cautious outlook but marketing budgets still rise

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

The latest IPA Bellwether Report is out this morning, showing that marketing budgets are up for the 10th quarter in a row.

The report, which measures predicted marketing spend, had been showing high confidence until the start of this year, but then the growth started to slow, signalling that the peak may have been reached in 2014.

This latest report continues that trend, with marketing budgets revised upwards, but to the weakest degree since Q1 2013.

As a result Bellwether has cut its growth forecast to +3.7% for 2015, from +4.2% in Q2. It believes growth will ease even further in 2016, to +3.6%.

“It’s pleasing to see that the growth period is continuing, but, we have to be aware that some client budgets are under review. The Bellwether does point to some loss of confidence from marketers, and a mixed bag of adjustments in budget spend is not unexpected,” said Jackie Holt, IPA North West city head and managing partner, BJL.

“It appears that the real opportunities to exploit growth remain in online spend and Agencies’ abilities to demonstrate ROI will only grow in importance.”

By sector, the internet remains the best performing category at +7.8% (up from +6.8% in Q2). Search/SEO continued to increase up to +0.6% (although this was much lower than the +6.5% in Q2 2015)

Events was also up slightly at +2.6% and main media at +0.5%.

However, there were declines elsewhere - PR: -5.8%; market research -4.7%; sales promotion -3.4%; direct marketing -2.7%; and ‘other’ -1.1%.

“While the deterioration in the headline index to a 10-quarter low looks dramatic, the slowdown in growth was somewhat on the cards,” added Paul Smith, senior economist at Markit and author of the Bellwether Report.

“As noted in the previous survey, confidence in the financial and economic outlook was already on the wane. Since then, UK growth has softened, while concerns over the outlook in emerging markets and the wider global economy have increased.

“Moreover, casting the latest data against a record run of expansion in marketing budgets, a period that includes the strongest upward revisions on record, the correction in growth seemed likely.

“Focus is therefore probably better placed on the continued expansion in budgets and the welcome news that marketing executives are continuing to adapt a prudent, targeted approach to marketing strategies.”

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