In yet another hopeful sign that the broader economy is showing meaningful improvement, a new survey indicates marketing budgets across businesses of all sizes are expected to improve in 2010.
According to a report recently issued by BtoB magazine, a Crain's publication targeting marketing professionals, while nearly 60 percent of business-to-business marketers cut their budgets in 2009, nearly 40 percent of the 376 surveyed plan to increase spending next year. Of the remainder, half plan to keep budgets constant, while only a little more than 13 percent plan to reduce their 2010 expenditures.
The survey also indicates more marketing dollars will be moving online, as companies look to shift strategies to lower-cost mediums such as social media, online video, Webcasts, e-mail marketing and Web development. This reflects the fact that the recession has reinforced the need for companies to better understand their customer so they can focus on both current customers and prospects more efficiently.
When it comes to the ongoing media shakeout, marketers remain convinced that social media will play an increasing role, however they are increasingly turning to technology-based tools to better measure the results and justify the expenses. Over the past year, Sybase and a number of other enterprise software companies have released products designed to allow marketers to better track the performance of their expenditures.
As far as the media landscape itself goes, all but one of the nation's 25 largest newspapers lost circulation in the 12 months ending Sept. 30. The Wall Street Journal was the only newspaper to report an increase, and even it was only a gain of .61 percent. Still, that was good enough to vault it over USA Today as the nation's largest newspaper, with a combined print and electronic circulation of slightly more than 2 million.
Although The Journal's lead may be slight, Dow Jones parent News Corp. is making a number of aggressive moves to broaden the paper's reach. The Journal has launched a new professional edition, which combines the newspaper and access to the Factiva database for $49 a month. It's also introduced a new local edition in the San Francisco Bay, Chicago and New York. However, these moves come on the heels of the closure of The Journal's Boston bureau and the cessation of publication for the Far Eastern Economic Review. Personally, I think gains in the New York market would prove difficult since Dow Jones would have to wrestle with avoiding the cannibalization of News Corp.'s New York Post and Cablevision's recent acquisition of Newsday. Cablevision just announced its cable TV subscribers will have free access to Newsday online, which will also broaden its reach.
These numbers are the latest in what have been called “green chutes” in the U.S. economy. Let's hope for the sake of everyone in both the journalism and marketing fields that 2010 posts a substantial uptick and ushers in a period of sustained economic growth for not only the U.S. but all of the world's leading economies.