According to the latest IPA Bellwether
Report for quarter 3 2011, there are some conflicting messages
coming from the marketers of UK companies:
- A net +3.4% of companies have increased
marketing budgets in Q3, the first up-tick after 3 straight
quarters of decline. This budget increase is a one and a half
- Executives' confidence for their own sector is -23.3% down
from -10.9%. Optimism is at it's second lowest since the
beginning of 2009.
- Executives are slightly more confident about their own
company's prospects than the category as a whole.
- Sales promotion and other below the line activity recorded a
positive index for the first time in nearly 4 years at a modest
Compiling statistics is an imprecise artform, hugely open to
interpretation. Such manipulation has inevitably lead to such
unflattering quotations relating to the practise as "There are
lies, damn lies and statistics" or "You can prove anything with
statistics except the truth".
Now we haven't seen the Bellwether report in it's entirety, but
just looking at the freely available headline figures from various
websites you could equally draw the following conclusion:
- 21% of marketers have increased their marketing budgets in
- 79% of companies have cut their marketing budgets or left them
Whilst it is interesting to compare these net figures across
various business benchmarks they strike me as being rather
meaningless without any context or sub categorisation. If you asked
the big utility companies how they see their prospects over the
coming 12 months they're probably going to be more up-beat than a
chain of estate agents. And do we know if the company raising their
budget enjoyed a particularly successful Q1 and Q2? Or, did they
too revise their budgets down in the earlier quarters and have
ended up with a war chest to spend in the all important run up to
Christmas? How much have budgets increased as a proportion of their
previous budget or even as a proportion of their turnover versus
the average for that category?
We're all for spreading positive news and agree with the widely
touted view that the media, the Bank of England and politicians can
play a hugely damaging role by constantly talking down the
So, if we're going to end on a positive note, let's concentrate
on the astronomic shift towards internet and internet search spend?
The highest ever quarter on quarter jump in the history of the
report saw the index rise from +1.9% to +16.6%. Marketers know that
they have to keep promoting themselves, especially when times are
tough so they are understandably shunning traditional 'old media'
and concentrating spend on measurable, good value channels which
the internet has in abundance.