Like all marketers, I’m constantly on the look out for further evidence of new growth from the green shoots that have been appearing over the last few months. And I’ve been heartened by recent news from WPP that its revenue increased by 12.2 per cent in the three months to September 30 – its highest growth in a decade.
WPP’s growth corresponds with Royal Mail’s latest study of the UK’s top marketing directors, carried out in association with The Marketing Society, which revealed increased confidence and optimism in the latter part of 2010.
The research, Royal Mail Index July-December 2010, found that a third of directors polled expected their marketing budgets to grow over the second half of the year, with fewer than 13 per cent believing they could be cut. This is a big improvement on the previous year, when we found 26 per cent expected an increase in budgets, while another quarter anticipated a drop.
Other encouraging news from WPP’s results is that it revealed the “bite back” of traditional media. They have seen their advertising and media businesses leading the way, with revenues up 9.6 per cent. This is closely followed by revenue from the group’s branding, identity and specialist communications businesses, including digital and direct agencies, which grew by 8.1 per cent.
This, according to Sir Martin Sorrell, is due to a renewed focus on brand building after advertisers spent time in 2009 concentrating on survival. These findings also reflect what we found – popularity across all marketing media, and not just digital.
When we asked marketing directors which channels they believed would be important to their business over the next financial year, digital channels such as search on 45 per cent and social media on 42 per cent led the way. However, interest in traditional channels was strong with 33 per cent stating press, 27 per cent direct mail and 23 per cent TV.
This interest in multichannel campaigns is perhaps not surprising when our own research has previously revealed that digital communications can see a 62 per cent increase in payback when combined with direct mail.
Integrating channels is a great way for advertisers to make their marketing work harder and increase visibility. And with the marketing community finally beginning to loosen the purse strings and increase investment across the board, it looks like there are promising times ahead.
Mark Thomson is media director at Royal Mail