The Q2 survey showed that around a third of the survey panel recorded an increase in internet marketing budgets (32%), against a little over 9% of panelists that recorded a fall. That provided a resulting net balance of +22.7%, which was up sharply since Q1 2017’s +16.9% and the highest reading since Q3 2007.
UK companies are ploughing their marketing investment into digital advertising, driving overall growth in all marketing budgets. However, due to Brexit, political and inflation concerns, companies’ financial prospects are waning.
Results showed a fifteenth successive quarterly upward revision to events budgets during the second quarter of 2017. However, the degree to which budgets were increased remained on a downward trajectory, with the respective net balance falling to a level of +2.1%. That compared to +4.9% in the preceding quarter and was considerably lower than the average recorded during the 2016 calendar year (when the strongest readings in the survey history were seen).
During the second quarter, just over 19% of the survey panel recorded an upward revision to events budgets, compared to a little over 17% that signalled a decline.
Paul Smith, senior economist at IHS Markit, commented: "The Bellwether survey continues to perfectly encapsulate the present economic situation presiding in the UK. Current economic conditions are sufficiently strong enough to support higher sales and demand, encouraging firms to provide product support through ongoing marketing budget expansion. However, the uncertainty caused by Brexit and a surprising general election outcome are skewing risks to future growth broadly to the downside resulting in subdued financial prospects, both at the company and wider macro levels."
Simon Boniface, creative director at FreemanXP EMEA, added: "The results of the latest Bellwether report are fairly typical of uncertain times — they can prompt marketers to re-allocate their budgets to focus on digital, as it’s an agile channel that can react quickly to change.
"That being said, it’s positive that event spend continues to rise. Events are arguably the oldest and most enduring form of marketing: the idea that people come together to learn about and then buy products is as relevant today as it was two hundred years ago. I have no doubt that event budgets will not only continue to rise, but increase more significantly in the future.
"The rise in digital spend offers a huge opportunity for events, as today our clients seek to create seamless online/offline experiences that are mutually beneficial. In B2B events, digital is vital in driving people to participate through email marketing, paid social and SEO, enhancing the event experience through apps, and collecting data to evaluate the experience for the next year.
"In my opinion B2C events have led the way by embracing the millennial theory of "picture or it didn’t happen". Digital is only engaging if there’s good content and live brand experiences are the perfect way to generate stories that can live online beyond the event.
"Events increasingly rely on digital but inversely digital needs events and the rise in spend by brands highlights a great opportunity for our industry."
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