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Taking a cue from history

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From the historical trivia folder: New York's Empire State Building opened its Observatory (86th floor, 1,050 feet above the city) in 1931, at the height of the Great Depression. Not great timing for a tourist attraction. But great plans often lag contemporary realities, especially economic ones. ¶ With that as context, I wonder about the fate of those multiyear campaigns conceptualized early last year. Are they going forward? What's become of their budget, given the weak U.S. economy? Finally, are the people involved in these campaigns (in-house, agency, media company partner) still around, given the spate of cutbacks and executive turnover? How marketers are adapting and adjusting to the slumping economy will continue to be a focus of BtoB's coverage. (It almost goes without saying that we are always on the prowl for interesting case studies.) On the quantitative front, watch for us to field additional surveys on this crucial topic, as well as others of interest to our readers. Not surprisingly, Internet marketing continues to grow despite the slowing economy. Last week, we reported on a new study by Forrester Research that found 72% of interactive marketers expect to either maintain interactive spending levels this year or increase them. The report, conducted online in February and March with 333 interactive marketers at midsize and large companies, found that 48% said they planned to increase investment in social networks; 42% said they would boost spending on user-generated content. Other areas seeing a significant increase include e-mail marketing, with 41% planning to boost spending; blogging (40%); and search marketing (38%). Significantly, only 10% said they plan to increase spending on display ads, while 40% plan to cut back on display ad spending. That's not to say print advertising is at an end; there are plenty of powerful media brands, as BtoB's Media Power 50, our annual picks of the top media outlets for marketers, makes clear. The Media Power 50—divided into categories for newspapers, general business magazines, IT magazines, trade magazines, Internet, broadcast and out-of-home— begins on page 25. But it is a changing, challenging time for traditional media companies. “There are [online] companies creating platforms for us to engage in conversations with customers that are two-dimensional compared to one-dimensional,” says Sandra Lopez, integrated marketing manager for business at Intel Corp., who is quoted in the introduction to the Media Power 50. “Traditional brands have to become more relevant.” Just a year ago in this space, I wrote about News Corp.'s unsolicited $5 billion bid to acquire Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. That deal went through—at $5.7 billion—and now the Journal is changing in ways big and small. (Nevertheless, the Journal retains its top slot in our Top 10 list, for the ninth year in a row; Google holds the No. 2 position, for the fifth year in a row.) Monitoring changes in the publishing industry, at the Journal and elsewhere, will continue to be an important part of BtoB's coverage. (It is the explicit mandate of Media Business, our monthly magazine supplement for publishing executives.) Modern marketers have an army of data, much of it flowing from the Internet, that their predecessors lacked. Think, for example, about those poor, harried souls trying to estimate tourist traffic to the Empire State Building in 1931. How best-in-class companies leverage marketing metrics is the subject of a roundtable starting on Page 1. Interestingly, Jim Sterne, producer of the annual eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and founding director and chairman of the Web Analytics Association, and one of the roundtable participants, believes the weak economy and budget scrutiny will increase the adoption of marketing metrics. “Interest in and attention to metrics tends to blossom in tough times,” Sterne said. Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business. He can be reached at ebooker@crain.com.
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