Digital Is Driving Marketers to Focus on Accountability

An Ad Age Editorial

Published on .

As recession has spooked consumers into trimming their spending, the media and agency communities are looking around warily for signs that marketers are doing likewise. But from Ad Age's vantage point, it doesn't seem that marketers are making panic cuts in their ad spending so much as continuing to change the way they spend.

To be sure, magazine ad pages are down, newspaper ad revenue is slipping and the TV upfront market looks set to be flat to down. Even internet ad growth looks to be slowing slightly. But speak to media buyers or sellers, and they'll concede that there are still plenty of marketers willing to spend big -- bigger than in previous years, in some cases -- when the ad program is right.

As TV sellers are finding during this upfront, marketers are less interested than they used to be in simply buying flights of 30-second spots and more focused on getting value-added, integrated packages -- many of which include TiVo-proof elements of branded entertainment -- built specifically around their key product pushes.

Magazine publishers report the same phenomenon: There's money there, but it's less and less about run of press and more about multifaceted programs designed to meet specific marketing goals.

Of course, this is nothing new -- marketers have been moving toward better-defined, more-integrated marketing programs for decades -- but the drive to digital is providing new ways to measure multimedia efforts and proving a catalyst that's bringing this movement to fruition.

As we saw recently with the Gap attributing its return to profitability in part to its decision to forgo TV spots, marketers today simply expect more from their advertising and scrutinize it more closely than ever before. Gap isn't saying it won't advertise -- in fact, Chairman-CEO Glenn Murphy went on record saying the company will spend more on ads than last year if it sees potential for a good return on that investment -- but it is saying that a number of criteria have to be met before it'll spend.

That seems to us to be less about a recession and more about a continuing shift toward marketing accountability.
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