Back in July and with post-Brexit implications falling all around us, the advertising industry-commissioned Bellwether Report brought bad news of its own. It revised down its forecast for marketing budget increases to 0.2 per cent for 2016 and -1.3 per cent for 2017. Prior to the referendum it had predicted marketing budget growth of around 3.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent for 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Now media buyer Carat has backed this up with similar findings. Its UK adspend forecast has been downgraded to 5.4 per cent for the year, from previous expectations of 6.2 per cent.
That was the topline for the marketing press.
The other story
However there is more to it than that. Budget reductions can mean fewer lavish TV campaigns, but more being spent on targeted communications. Obviously, content marketing is among the options.
There are other predictions in the Carat report that are worth examining. Spend on online video will grow by 44.9 per cent this year and 36.4 per cent in 2017, while social media spend is expected to increase by 32.7 per cent in 2016 and 21.9 per cent in 2017. The report says: “In particular, Facebook continues to grow faster than almost every other media supplier and is set to become the third largest media platform in 2017 behind Google and ITV.”
Now this is good news from a content marketing perspective. Yes, it’s about social media. But predominantly, social networks are about distributing content not banner ads. As we have been saying for some time, distribution is one half of the domino that you need to knock down.
Recession and spending cuts are never a good thing. Trends come and go, but the strategy of cutting marketing budgets first in times of uncertainty is an evergreen response. It happened in the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties and it will probably happen again now.
It is often forgotten that it can also force better business practices and habits on the companies affected. And that doesn’t mean tightening up the production process or centralising media buying. One big agency used to restock the bar every week, which meant staff spent Friday afternoons drinking the existing supply. It would make a great book, if it hasn’t already been written.
The excesses of Eighties ad agencies are a world away from the present. But in addition to people working on a Friday afternoon, there is greater enthusiasm to try new marketing strategies – content being one of them.