Staff Writer
Oct 16, 2020

Report: Marketing budgets are shifting towards paid search & social

How has marketing priorities and KPIs shifted during COVID-19? What channels are marketers spending on - and which industry uses more data-driven measurement methods than any other? The above, and more, will be revealed in Campaign x GfK’s ‘Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal’ report.

Report: Marketing budgets are shifting towards paid search & social

Hard hit by COVID-19, marketers are having to contend with budget slashes to varying degrees. Yet, they’re still spending, according to a soon-to-be-launched survey by Campaign and GfK

To gain a better understanding of shifting marketing priorities and budgets, Campaign partnered with GfK for a survey, Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal, from August 29 to September 2, 2020. 

Shrinking budgets, retail is hit hardest

Unsurprisingly, a huge majority (73%) say that budgets have decreased, with those in FMCG and Healthcare hit hardest. 

When it comes to how COVID-19 has affected their business, a majority (55%) say that business has slowed or come to a screeching halt. 

There is quite a bit of variation across industries - retail is hit hardest, with 80% saying that business has slowed, and 10% saying that it has come to a screeching halt, followed by automotive and consumer durable, with 100% say business has slowed. 

This is a new reality facing many marketers. Global ad spend is set to fall by 8.1%, according to a WARC study

For those facing shrinking budgets, the top question might be: how to do more with less? How should we more efficiently engage with our consumers? After all, the worst thing one can do is go dark. As consumers are shifting their lifestyles and way of consumption, they’re also hungry for any information to guide them through one of the greatest health crises of the last century. 

The shift in spend towards paid search, social, mobile...and PR

Noteworthy from the survey results is that marketers haven’t completely halted spending. 

On the whole, marketers say budgets away from more traditional channels such as trade marketing, OOH and print towards digital channels, including paid search, social media and mobile. 

There are a few outliers. South Korea is moving away from paid search and towards DOOH, while Hong Kong and China are shifting towards live activations. 

The latter is less surprisingly perhaps. The survey was done from early August to early September, when the number of cases in Hong Kong and China have gone down, and consumers are generally more comfortable with participating in group activities. 

One of the channels we asked about was PR. A majority are shifting budgets away - except for those in healthcare, financial services, media and retail respondents. 

While PR has always been important for the healthcare industry, its rising importance in other industries reflects the need to create trust at a time when consumers are losing faith in other facets of society. 

More than anything perhaps, the fact that marketers are still willing to spend reflects a cautious optimism in APAC. Not only is the region the first to be hit by COVID-19 - and thus the first to come out of it - it has also demonstrated more cohesion - whether government directives or social mobilisation - in dealing with the pandemic. 

When we asked how long they think the impact of consumer demand in your business will last, a majority of respondents answered 6-12 months - much shorter than global sentiments. 

For more insights, watch this space as we launch the Branding and Marketing in the New Abnormal report next week. 

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