Play it again Sam!

Mayhap this is the four-hundred-and thirty-first time you’ve read this year that marketers are shifting their budgets away from traditional media and into the current flavors of the month – online and direct mail?

Just another PR stunt? Probably not. The latest study to indicate this trend is not sponsored by a national dm association or agency specializing in one or another of the b-t-l disciplines. Furthermore the size of the sample suggests it is a serious attempt to discern where future marketing spend is going.

The study, a joint venture between the London Business School and leading global advertising and marketing group Havas, polled over seven hundred major marketing companies across the world’s five largest advertising economies: the US, Japan, Germany, UK and France. Uniquely, it based its findings on total marketing budgets rather than advertising in isolation.

The study, which examines the period from 2001 to 2003, suggests that direct mail and online are the sectors most likely to benefit from the shift in spend, probably at the expense of sales promotion, while public relations is predicted to plateau.

What are the attractions of mail and online? According to one of the study’s authors, Patrick Barwise, professor of management and marketing at the LBS: “They're more measurable and seen as good value for money as people get better at targeting.”

The study’s headline findings …

Media advertising (including TV, radio, press, posters and cinema) will account for 44.4% of total marketing spending in the five countries by 2003, down from 45.4% in 2001.

Direct mail will grow to 13.3% in 2003 from 12.8% in 2001.

Interactive marketing (including email marketing, website design, internet advertising and cellphone ads) will grab a 7% share in 2003, up from 6.1% in 2001.

Sales promotion will decline from 19.8% the mix in 2001 to 19.4% of in 2003.

Public relations and sponsorship activities will remain steady with around 12.8% share.

As to the predicted growth in interactive advertising, the study acknowledges that its popularity with marketers bucks the tide of criticism that it irritates audiences.

Says Havas spokesperson Alan Styler: “The shifts indicate a significant change in the way expenditure is being used. It's important to see them as pointers to the mindset of the people we've researched.”

Marketers now are using the web for more than internet ads, Styler explains, and they like what they see. Email marketing and websites, for instance, have proved to be useful tactics not only to drive sales but also to gather information about customers. “It's a very productive channel in terms of learning.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff