COVID-19 has dramatically amplified the rate of decline across global marketing budgets, according to data from WARC's latest Global Marketing Index (GMI). Developed by WARC's founder Mike Waterson, who also created the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), the GMI is a monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry based on current conditions among practitioners. An index value of 50.0 indicates no change, below 50.0 indicates decline and above 50.0 indicates growth.

Although the index value for global marketing budgets has been in decline since June 2019, owing mostly to budget tightening for traditional media, COVID-19 has accelerated this downturn. March recorded an index value of 38.7, the fastest rate of decline recorded in the GMI's eight year history.

Given a likely global economic and advertising recession, marketers may currently be struggling to justify the value of any investment. Brands should be cautious in closing the lines of communication, though – those that maintain share of voice in a recession will build long-term equity.

Other findings from the GMI include: 

  • Mobile and digital (excluding mobile) marketing budgets show resilience against global decline by remaining in growth, with mobile’s index value of 55.2 above digital’s 53.9. In contrast, all traditional media monitored – TV, radio, print and out-of-home (OOH) – accelerated in decline.
  • For the first time since its inception, GMI data show a decline in global staffing levels, with a decrease from 51.3 in February to 47.9 in March.

The Global Marketing Index provides a unique monthly indicator of the state of the global marketing industry, by tracking current conditions among practitioners. The global panel consists of experienced executives working for brand owners, media owners, creative and media agencies and other organisations serving the marketing industry.

If you currently work for a brand owner, media owner, creative or media agency – or any other organisation serving the marketing industry – then we want you to take part in our panel. The full report is shared with participants.

Marketing in the COVID-19 crisis

This article is part of a special WARC Snapshot focused on enabling brand marketers to re-strategise amid the unprecedented disruption caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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