FRAMINGHAM, MA: IT companies will finally start breathing life into their beleaguered marketing budgets, according to a new study from research and analyst firm IDC.IDC's CMO Advisory Service predicts that IT marketing budgets will increase 6% this year, after a marketing budget decrease of 1.7% last year. "There's been an upturn in the industry, but marketing investment tends to lag following the turnaround," said Richard Vancil, VP of the CMO Advisory Service. "Most companies wanted to make sure there was really a turnaround before investing in marketing again." The two biggest areas of investment will be lead generation and brand awareness. During the downturn, there was heavy focus on tactical marketing tied to lead generation that could easily be measured. With marketing dollars under fire, branding was put on the back burner, said Vancil. Now marketers are playing catch up and want to use branding to help differentiate themselves from competitors. But expect branding efforts to be better integrated with the more tactical elements of marketing, he added. The study also found that when it comes to funding various marketing channels, PR ranks fifth in its share of the budget, behind advertising, marketing support and sales tools, events, and direct marketing. While 6.7% of IT marketing budgets go to PR, 35.3% goes to advertising. But PR fares better than collateral, research, and web-based marketing. Analyst relations gets the least funding, around 2.2% of marketing budgets - less than research- and web-based marketing. IT services companies are more likely to fund PR, with 9.7% of marketing budgets going to PR, compared with hardware and software dedicating 6.2% and 6.6%, respectively. The study found that 48.5% of tech companies have a specific marketing measurement mandate from the president or CEO. As for outsourcing PR, 59.5% of firms' budgets go to external PR services. Only for ads and research do firms spend more of their budgets on outsourcing.