Digging deeper with DMA’s latest Power of Direct report

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The release this month of the Direct Marketing Association’s annual Power of Direct Marketing report, a forecast of direct marketing’s impact on the U.S. economy, revealed the slowdown in growth expected in this economically battered year, with a rebound projected for late 2009.

But the report’s more granular findings revealed intriguing trends within industry groups and among various slices of direct marketing media and tools. In short, some sectors are performing better (or worse) than others, as are the direct marketing tools marketers choose to use.

“Keep in mind that dollars continue to flow from overall marketing expenditures into direct marketing,” said Ramesh Ratan, exec VP-COO of DMA. That’s due to direct marketing’s vaunted ability to attribute revenue to particular campaigns or agency activities, he added.

Ratan also said that unease in the consumer marketplace is affecting b-to-b buying and, in response, direct marketing expenditures.

“I believe there will be ripple effects in the long run,” he said. “Businesses that depend on businesses will be affected, but generally the b-to-b sector continues to be healthy.”

That, however, is not the case for all of it. DMA’s report revealed some winners and losers.

Winners and losers
The biggest growth area over the past year in terms of advertising expenditures has been in commercial e-mail, which grew 24.8%, followed by other forms of Internet marketing (such as search, Web site optimization, blogs, display ads, video and text links) which grew 19.7%.

It’s a trend to which marketers and vendors can testify.

“We’ve been talking to our customers, and so far there has not been any negative impact from the economy,” said Blaine Mathieu, CMO at e-mail marketing company Lyris Inc. “Why? Because e-mail and search-engine marketing have the highest ROI of all.”

Continuing to fall out of favor among direct marketers have been direct response newspaper ad expenditures (down 7.6% over the past year) and direct-response radio (down 2.7%). Modest growth is still being seen in direct response television spots (up 4.5%), direct mail catalog spending (up 3.1%) and other direct mail (up 2.9%).

And for the b-to-b marketer in particular, budgets have held up much better than for their consumer counterparts: B-to-b direct marketing ad expenditures grew by 4.2% this year, compared with a 1.9% uptick in the b-to-c sector.

Long-term trends reflect year-over-year performance.

DMA projected that b-to-b Internet marketing will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 28% through 2013, with commercial e-mail marketing spending not far behind. However, over the next five years, DMA researchers anticipate that b-to-b telephone marketing spending will remain relatively flat (it actually retrenched by 1.5% this year), along with newspaper advertising.

“Marketers can’t control their total direct marketing investment, but they can control where they invest,” said DMA President John Greco. “In fact, direct marketing’s value is enhanced by a bad economy because marketers want to use smarter channels.”

Where’s the beef?
Among industry groups, direct marketing expenditures for the construction industry are expected to grow by 11.6% through 2013, with the chemicals industry (excluding pharmaceuticals) enjoying a 9.1% rise during that time; the financial services sector, 6.8%; and the health care industry, 8.4%.

Direct marketing expenditures on behalf of manufacturing, software, printing and professional services are forecast to experience flat or slightly reduced expenditures during that period.

Employment trends also are a key indicator of the state of the direct marketing industry. DMA’s report on employment mirrors to some degree ad expenditures, with jobs in e-mail and other Internet marketing areas growing about 9% through 2013.

Meanwhile, employment retrenchments are projected for b-to-b direct marketing positions in catalogs, telephone marketing and direct response newspaper, radio and magazine positions.

“It’s all e-commerce, man,” said Jerry Bernhart, owner of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, a direct marketing recruiter.

In his own survey of the direct-marketing employment landscape, Bernhart said that one in every four open b-to-b positions is in some form of digital marketing.

“It’s clear that from now through the rest of the year that’s where the demand will be, and I don’t see that changing much in 2009,” Bernhart said.

Direct marketing continues to be a significant element in overall advertising spending. Its current annual level of $177 billion accounts for 52% of all advertising expenditures for the year, according to DMA’s Power of Direct Marketing report.

DMA’s 2008-09 Power of Direct Marketing report is available for purchase on DMA’s Web site,

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