DURHAM, North Carolina: Marketers in the US are more optimistic about the state of the economy than six months ago, but also predict price will remain the dominant motivator among consumers this year, reports a survey by Duke University.

The bi-annual survey found 59% of marketers were more pessimistic about the financial climate than in the last quarter – down from 77% in August last year – while 15% were more optimistic, up by 2%.

Almost a third of participants agreed price will be the top priority among consumers, down 2% from the last survey, while 20% argued a "trusting relationship" with companies was key, up 7%.

By contrast, just 6% said brands will be shoppers' top priority, compared with 16% in support of "excellent service" and 11% favouring innovation.

Adspend through traditional media was also forecast to fall by 7.3%, while online revenues will grow by 10.2%, with new product innovation spending and brand building rising 10.5% and 1.8% respectively.

New research from iMedia further suggests that 59% of marketers will increase their investment in tracking ROI this year, and where results are not positive, will "slash" their spending accordingly.

Just over a quarter plan to retain the same media mix as last year, while 15% will "revert to what we know best", posing the biggest threat to digital.

Figures from AdAge further show the challenging advertising climate in the US, where the top ten banks and credit cards cut their adspend by 11% in 2008, rising to 25% in Q4 and 39% in December.

The 15 biggest automakers also reduced their outlay by a total of $328m (€260m; £232m) in 2008, a fall of 13.5% to $2.1 billion.

Data sourced from Duke University/eMarketer/AdAge; additional content by WARC staff