European marketers are spending to gain short-term sales, increasingly interested in online and still struggling to make the most of integrated marketing plans. If this is what you have long suspected, then the global market research company Millward Brown now has the figures to prove it.
Its latest snapshot of ad budget holders, EuroMedia Trends 2005, based on a poll of 700-plus marketing decision-makers, contains few surprises.
Western European marketers are still cautious about budgets, with only 37 per cent predicting an increase in 2005, compared with 33 per cent whose spending went up in 2004.
The outlook is worst in France and Germany, where 32 per cent of marketing bosses are planning increases and 18 per cent looking at cuts. In the UK, budgets were going up with 43 per cent of respondents and down with 14.
Optimism is highest among Western Europe's mid-sized advertisers; 47 per cent of those in the EUR1 million to EUR10 million budget bracket are predicting increases, and 8 per cent cuts, compared with 30 per cent increasing and 17 per cent cutting among holders of budgets of more than EUR10 million.
Growth is most evident in online, magazines and direct mail, all areas with more focused targeting and clearer return on investment.
More than a quarter of European marketers said they would increase online budgets in 2005, compared with 54 per cent of respondents to US surveys.
In Western Europe, 44 per cent of respondents said they have centralised online marketing groups, compared with 73 per cent in the US and 28 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe.
Finally, 59 per cent of European marketers claim to run integrated marketing campaigns of one form or another, compared with 89 per cent in the US.
"One gets the impression that this is absolutely the future," Brian Jacobs, the head of the global media practice at Millward Brown and an ex-managing director of Carat International, says. "What's interesting is there's a lot of talk but the number of people doing this stuff is less than one might have thought. I think integration is a lot harder than everyone thinks it is."
Online and integrated certainly seem to be two areas marketers are keen on at the moment. Liz Stainthorpe, the head of global brand communications, business to business, Orange, says: "I think there's a big opportunity to work with media owners that can do cross-channel advertising. We've been approached by people offering online, TV and so on individually, but there is not a lot of cross-media fertilisation.
"I'm looking forward to being presented with more interactive ways of talking to people, not just a broad message to a broad spread of people. I don't think online has run its course."
Giles Hadman, the executive director of global media at the Disney distributor Buena Vista International, confirms that "the internet is increasing in importance. Our most important marketing tool is word of mouth and the internet is one place where we get a lot of editorial for free."
This does not mean marketers are about to give up on traditional media such as TV, which is rated tops for building brand equity among those that use it. "TV will not become less important, but we'll have to try to use it differently," Hadman says.
WHAT CLIENTS WANT ...
- Liz Stainthorpe - head of global brand communications, business to business, Orange
"From media owners, I value real understanding of my brand in the context of their property. This seems a huge challenge to media owners. I'd like them to be honest enough and open enough to say: 'This doesn't fit with your brand.'
"I'll very happily spend time with media owners and explain what I want to achieve. I realise it's a very naive assumption - that we won't get sold what they earlier sold to Vodafone - but it would be nice to see some original thinking out there."
- Giles Hadman - executive director, global media, Buena Vista International
"I like agencies and owners to come up with ideas I haven't come up with already. It shows they're thinking about the product, and whenever we come across it we are very keen to talk to people.
"I would also love for some agency or industry body to wave a magic wand and come up with a way of evaluating different types of media on a like-for-like basis.
"At the moment, clients are left to work out for themselves whether it makes sense to reallocate budget from one medium to another."
- Nandini Gulati - integrated marketing communications manager, Europe, Eurasia and the Middle East, Coca-Cola
"I like people who bring us innovative opportunities before they can be leveraged elsewhere. At a local level, this happens very often, but the big ideas are few and far between. I'd also like to have really good consumer research.
"I don't like people doing planning as it was done 15 years ago. How we use traditional media is changing. Overall, we are looking at introducing more digital options into our marketing plans, although I don't have a view that TV will die out."
- Tim Freystedt - senior marketing manager, Europe, Nintendo
"Research is always very helpful - Viacom, for instance, has lots of information about how consumers are changing.
"I prefer having media and creative agencies under one roof. Media agencies are very good at finding new ways of talking to customers. Creative agencies are more focused on the actual advertising.
"If something irritated me, I would change the media partner, possibly never use them again. But thankfully it hasn't happened yet."