IPA Bellwether survey paints a marginally less gloomy picture of UK marketing budgets in 2013

The quarterly IPA Bellwether Report into marketing budgets (or expected marketing budgets) assembled by Markit is all jolly useful but it’s been a bit of a non-event over the past couple of years – up a bit now and then but mostly down, by just a percentage point or so.

2012 Q4’s net balance is plus 1.1 per cent but, before you hang out the bunting, that just reflects the fact that 17 per cent of respondents said budgets were increasing against 16 per cent who thought the opposite, so hardly a tidal wave of optimism. But better than Q3, which showed a 5.5 per cent decline. But didn’t we have the Olympics then?

Anyway the IPA and Markit have pepped things up a bit by positing a longer-term trend derived from looking at various components of economic growth, business investment and consumer spending and this purports to show that there’ll be a dreary one per cent rise in budgets next year but that this will rise to plus 4.6 per cent in 2017.

Markit’s Chris Williamson says: “Companies have grown more positive about their financial prospects, setting marketing budgets higher for the coming year to help beat a challenging business environment. However, the initial increase is one of the smallest seen over the past 12 years, with only 2012 seeing a more downbeat start to the year.” Which sounds like a bit of jam tomorrow.

The ever-positive IPA president Nicola Mendelsohn of Karmarama says: “Marketing budgets have been revised up, albeit marginally, to the highest rate in over a year. Advertisers also have a growing sense of cautious optimism about their own financial prospects and are planning to increase their 2013 budgets higher than 2012 levels. So while we continue to operate amidst a difficult economic backdrop, we should nevertheless take encouragement from these figures, and do all that we can to remain positive in meeting the challenges we face.”

Of the various sectors in marketing internet advertising is doing the best while event marketing and PR are doing the worst. Direct marketing and research aren’t too hot either. Main media is quite resilient in face of the internet.

All in all, another year of slim pickings seems to be on the cards while we wait to strike out into the sunlit uplands of 2017. Assuming the dear old UK economy makes it that far, of course.

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