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Cover Story : Media Usage Forecast 2013

6 things you need to know about this year's direct marketing budgets and the channels where they're going

March 2013 By Thorin McGee
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Are doubts creeping into the marketing recovery—and the budgets of our readers?

Marketers never did stop expressing doubts about the economy after our last recession. Yet, compared to the responses to our annual Media Usage surveys in 2012 and 2011, this year's survey of our subscribers' marketing media spending plans reveals more guarded budgets than the year before.

Take the overall percentages of companies increasing and decreasing marketing budgets in Chart 1 (see the media player to the right). Compared to 2012, fewer B-to-B companies are increasing budgets, and more companies are decreasing or budgeting flat.

On the B-to-C side, there is more uncertainty. Fewer respondents are increasing or decreasing budgets than last year, but many more answer "Don't know/not sure."

Companies that market to both businesses and consumers (the "Both" graphic in Chart 1) have the lowest rate of increasing budgets this year and the highest rate of staying the same, which is similar to 2012's results.

The open response answers to the question "What factors have influenced changes in your direct marketing media allocations from 2012 to 2013?" also show unease with the economy, budgets and sales revenue.

Out of the 169 respondents who wrote answers to that question, 31 include the word "budget." That's a full 18 percent. They often use it as a one-word justification for their responses to the entire survey, simply saying, "Budget."

"Sales," "revenue," "growth," "funding" and "economy" are all offered in those open answers, as well; many times in the same manner as "budget." In total, a solid quarter of our respondents blame business income for negative responses in the survey.

On the other hand, there are a few who say budgets, sales, etc., are having a positive impact; including one B-to-C marketer who says of his biggest influence, "If any, it would be the economy improving."

More budgets are increasing than decreasing, so the total outlay still appears to be creeping up; just more slowly than in 2012.

That's the big picture of how marketing budgets are shifting in 2013, but our survey reveals much more about how marketers are allocating their dollars. Here are six things you need to know about what they say.


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