Cover Story: Media Usage Forecast 2010
If flat is the new up, then those economists and industry analysts predicting that we're seeing the first indicators of a slow recovery are right on the money.
Comparing responses from Target Marketing's Media Usage Forecast 2010—now in its fourth year—to data from last year's survey, we find fewer marketers reporting a decrease in direct response media budgets (29 percent in 2010 vs. 35 percent in 2009). But considering that 43.5 percent of respondents this year expect budgets to stay level with last year's and 40 percent of respondents to the 2009 forecast expected a flat budget compared to their 2008 funding, marketers still are going to be hard-pressed to turn straw into gold for another year.
To make things a little more interesting for 2010's Forecast, we tracked responses across three verticals: B-to-B, B-to-C and marketers with hybrid business models to serve both businesses and consumers (see chart 1 in the media player to the right). Of the trio, B-to-B is faring the best at the beginning of the turnaround, with a strong majority (78 percent) anticipating at least the same direct response media spend as in 2009, if not a little more. But marketing departments on the B-to-C and hybrid sides will continue to struggle with budget decreases, as close to a third of respondents in each vertical predict less money in their futures.
The continuing need to do more with less likely plays a role in which media are go-to vehicles at the present. Looking at which media provide the strongest ROI for acquisition across all respondents, e-mail claims the top spot for the second year in a row (24 percent), followed by direct mail (20 percent) and telemarketing (11 percent). But because the majority of respondents engage in B-to-B marketing, telemarketing skews a little higher in the combined results. When broken down by vertical, B-to-C firms rate e-mail and direct mail closely for prospecting ROI but turn to advertising on outside Web sites as their third pick. For both B-to-B and B-to-C marketers, search engine optimization holds down the fourth spot, while the hybrid group blends in a little direct response space advertising. In general, these numbers compared to last year's choices for top ROI producers on the acquisition front are a smidge lower for both e-mail and direct mail, providing room for other media to take on more prominent roles in the hunt for new customers.