New York private equity firm Halyard Capital took an informal survey of attendees to get a sense of where they see the market next year, and most predicted digital-marketing budgets would be down 10% to 20% overall from 2008.
But the wide range in responses indicated to Halyard partner Bruce Eatroff that the industry's confusion over measurement is preventing marketers from accurately forecasting the market. "The fact that marketers are so uncertain about how online spending levels will fare in this market signals the absence of consistent, quantifiable returns from online campaigns," he said.
Or it could just mean they haven't seen '09 budgets yet -- and they're bracing for the worst.
But among the gloom there was a little good news for social networks. Some current logic dictates that social media such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo will have a tough time in a downturn, as marketers take fewer fliers on media they still consider experimental.
Well, 68% of AdTech's attendees responding to Halyard's survey said social networking is in the "strongest position to expand" among alternative marketing channels over the next two years, compared with a quarter who said branded entertainment.
Some 62% cited mobile as the platform the will grow the most in the next two years compared to others, while 15% said ad networks would gain share, which may indicate just how many ad networks there are -- and how many attend AdTech.
Only 8% said search marketing would outpace other areas in terms of growth. Wishful thinking, perhaps?