NEW YORK: Brand activation revenues should reach $357bn this year, according to a forecast from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the industry body, and research firm PQ Media.

The two organisations reported that total marketing operator revenues from brand activation rose by 6.7% on an annual basis to $337.2bn in 2016, with further growth expected in 2017.

Content marketing – which includes single-channel and hybrid content marketing for digital and print, as well as product placement and graphic packaging – logged the fastest pace of growth.

More specifically, marketing operator revenues in this area, the ANA and PQ Media revealed, climbed by 11.3% last year – the highest annual growth rate across the six brand activation categories in their analysis.

Influencer marketing registered the second-highest growth rate, with an annual lift of 8.7% to $49.1bn. And while this strategy is often connected to working with YouTube content creators, the PQ Media/ANA report served as a valuable reminder that it extends from social media and word-of-mouth marketing to PR, customer service and even telesales.

Revenues from experiential marketing – consisting of event marketing, sponsorship, business-to-business live events, trade-show promotions, cause-related initiatives and grassroots marketing – jumped by 6.7% to $50.6bn.

Elsewhere, relationship marketing – a category that includes direct mail, catalogs, list management and database-led initiatives, plus email, search, loyalty programs, and lead generation – enjoyed a 6.6% increase.

This lift was particularly impressive given that operator revenue came in at $140.6bn, by far the largest net figure in the brand activation universe.

Promotional marketing – extending across sampling, rebates, coupons, contents, sweepstakes and more – recorded growth of 1.7%, taking it to $52.1bn.

Overall, the analysis continued, business-to-consumer initiatives accounted for 62.3% in operator revenue (having grown by 6.9% to $211.3bn), with business-to-business programs yielding 37% (up 5.2% to $126bn).

Data sourced from Association of National Advertisers; additional content by WARC staff