Bellwether survey sounds cautious note for marketing industry

The latest IPA/BDO Bellwether survey published today found that overall marketing budgets were revised upwards during the third quarter, although PR budgets may still be falling.

Vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group UK: Rory Sutherland

The 0.5% overall upwards revision of marketing budgets follows a modest downgrade during the previous quarter.

The 'all other' category (which includes PR and other below-the-line disciplines) was revised down again, although rates of budget trimming have eased since Q2. The proportion of companies in the ‘all other’ category reporting an increase was less than those signalling a decline, resulting in a net balance of minus 3.6%. 

The survey also reveals that companies have grown less optimistic about the financial prospects for the industries, with positive sentiment dipping to the lowest point in five quarters.

By sector, internet advertising recorded the fastest rate of budget growth by a wide margin. Direct marketing spend was also revised up at the fastest rate in four years.

Rory Sutherland, IPA president and vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group UK, said: ‘Though these latest figures suggest hesitancy they don't indicate absolute pessimism. In these times of uncertainty around Government spending and the sustainability of an economic recovery, it is not surprising that businesses remain cautious. And even though the upward revisions to marketing budgets are only slight, marketing budgets have stabilised.'

Andy Viner, head of media, BDO LLP, said: ‘The overall outlook is one of caution with companies having to respond operationally to the changing commercial landscape. We are seeing them take a tentative approach to the commitment of non-essential expenditure against a continued backdrop of looming public sector cuts and general economic uncertainty.’

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