And now for a bucket of cold water (media planners talk spending)

November 6, 2008 by Dave Haynes

The last couple of weeks have seen some rosy forecasts about the industry, usually saying the future is bright and even if a recession slows things, there will still be growth.

Well, if you are in this game to make money through ad sales, here’s a nice big bucket of cold water for you.

Spending on emerging media such as social networking sites, digital out-of-home and mobile is likely to contract next year as marketers tighten ad budgets because of the worsening economy, a group of agency and brand executives said Wednesday (as reported in MediaPost).

“09 is not the year for testing,” warned Donna Speciale, president of investment and activation at MediaVest USA, speaking on a panel at ad:tech New York on media planning and buying in the digital era. “Brands want to stick with areas that are tried and true.”

Quentin George, president, global digital strategy and marketing innovation at Universal-McCann, agreed that marketers are likely to be less adventurous in exploring newer platforms in the midst of a severe downturn. Even if funding for more experimental campaigns doesn’t completely dry up, projects will take longer to complete. “A cool idea that might have taken two months to complete might now take six or nine months,” he said.

The grim outlook for ad spending into next year is bad news for much-hyped categories such as mobile and digital out-of-home advertising. “With the economy the way it is, (mobile) is one of the least areas clients are going to be looking at because it’s more of a test-and-learn situation,” Speciale said.

The story goes on to highlight one of the key barriers, as noted a week earlier at the OVAB summit – measurement.

What would encourage marketers to spend more on social media and other newer platforms? More uniform audience and engagement metrics. “What we don’t have is a consistent metric,” Speciale said. “We need to have something clients can feel comfortable with so that if I take budget out of TV (spending), I can show value for it. That’s where the disconnect is.”

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