Cold weather, hot budgets

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As Chicago records its coldest first week of December since World War II, it's worth noting that business marketing is hot again, with increased budgets—especially online—and new campaign launches. Take a look at our exclusive "2006 Marketing Priorities and Plans" survey (page 26). ¶ This year, our annual survey found that 60.7% of respondents will be working with bigger budgets in 2006. Less than a third (31.6%) said their budgets would be flat; and only 7.7% said their budgets would decrease. Moreover, a whopping 69.8% of respondents said they plan to introduce new ad campaigns in 2006.

The consensus growth estimate for b-to-b marketing budgets in 2006 is between 6% and 11%.

One fascinating finding of a survey of nearly 100 b-to-b marketers by Blackfriars Communications, a consulting and research firm, is that companies that measure the performance of marketing plan to increase budgets by a much higher percentage than those that don't measure marketing.

"Those companies that measure marketing [66 out of 98] plan to increase their marketing budgets an average 13.0% in 2006, while those that don't measure marketing plan to increase their marketing budgets by only 2.0% in 2006," writes Kate Maddox, in her story about this and other research ("Research studies find marketing budgets up," page 28).

Surprising no one, online spending has dominated the headlines this year and will continue to do so next. Online ad spending in the U.S. will reach $15.6 billion in 2006, up from $12.9 billion this year, predicts research company eMarketer.

But it would be Pollyannaish to say there aren't difficult challenges confronting business marketers. While the following three items don't represent an exhaustive list of the topics BtoB will cover in 2006, they will be front and center:

Media fragmentation. A slew of syndication technologies is further fracturing the media landscape. Marketers and publishers alike are witnessing an unprecedented scattering of their audiences across channels that increasingly include nontraditional, peer-to-peer platforms such as blogs. How are marketers effectively finding and engaging their audiences in these settings?

Infrastructure. Technology, both for execution and measurement, is revamping how marketers work, make decisions and communicate their value. This topic is so important that next month BtoB will inaugurate a new section devoted to it.

A profession in flux. What skills do marketers require today? How can the marketing department do a better job working with its counterparts in sales, product development, research and IT? How is marketing perceived by top management?

I'm certain many of you have stories to tell us about these and other subjects. Drop me an e-mail.

On behalf of the BtoB staff, we wish you a happy holiday season. Here's to a healthy and prosperous 2006!

Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business. He can be reached at [email protected]

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