What Future Lies Ahead For Marketers?

    November 10, 2008
    Chris Crum

Some interesting data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has been released. The data comes from 1,200 attendees of the ANA’s "Master of Marketing" conference, which was held last month in Orlando. These attendees were polled via handheld electronic device about a variety of topics related to marketing, budgets, and future plans.

Branding Through Social Networks

Preferred Social Networks For Branding (in order)What I find interesting is that although other studies have shown that business professionals tend to prefer LinkedIn as their social network of choice, when asked which one the attendees prefer to drive their brand, LinkedIn was not on top. In fact, it was fifth, but if you want to get technical, it was more like third, because number one was "none" at 32% and "all" was fourth at 12%. YouTube and Facebook made up 20% and 18% respectively with LinkedIn coming in at 10%.

This data isn’t really that surprising, given that the question is related to branding, and is being answered, presumably by marketers primarily. YouTube and Facebook are big branding tools while LinkedIn is more of a straight networking tool. Of course there is some obvious overlap between them all when it comes to how much networking and branding can be done among any of them, but LinkedIn is often more associated with business relationship-building, while YouTube and Facebook are associated with consumers and the general population. Although, I would consider MySpace to be in the latter category, it came in below LinkedIn at just 6%, and perhaps even more surprisingly, Twitter came in at a mere 3%.

Marketing and Media Plans for the Future

Given the state of the economy, it is not surprising that the majority plan on altering their marketing budgets heading into the next year. What is perhaps a little surprising is that nearly as many plan to spend more on marketing than as plan to reduce their budgets. Here’s how they answered:

– Spending will be reduced (33%)

– Spending will be constant / marketing mix will be reallocated (33%)

– Surprisingly, we will spend more (27%)

– No changes, we will keep everything status quo (8%)

 Getting a little more specific, attendees were asked just how they intend to spend in 2009 when compared to 2008. They answered:

– Increase spending more than 10% (26%)

– Increase spending less than 10% (13%)

– Hold stable (28%)

-Decrease spending less than 10% (14%)

– Decrease spending more than 10% (19%)

 Measuring Brand Growth

Measuring brand growth is not an exact science, and this is one reason that many businesses are still hesitant to adopt social media strategies. It is hard for business owners and managers to weigh brand growth against productivity. While not specific to social media, attendees of the conference were asked, "How does your CEO view your marketing efforts with respect to growth?" The overwhelming majority (56%) said their CEOs view them as a brand-building investment. 21% viewed them as an unaccountable but necessary expense, while 8% considered them an unnecessary expense and 15% just didn’t know.

When it comes to how companies are measuring growth, 70% said by sales and net income, while 15% cited third party brand equity valuations, 9% said shareholder value, 4% said household penetration, and 3% said company culture. That’s an interesting one. Based on this logic, I guess Google would know they are doing well based simply on their cafeterias, daycare establishments, gyms, etc.


The ANA’s polling results have provided an insightful look into how marketers are thinking going into a new year, leaving behind one that has trumpeted in economic downturn most of the way across the board. Marketing is going to be perhaps even more important than usual as business struggle to get the few dollars that many consumers have left to spend. Unfortunately, the money of those businesses is also limited.