37% of High-Level Marketers Plan to Spend More in Upfront

Advertiser Perceptions Survey: 'Leveling Off' of Pessimism

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Just in time for this year's TV upfront market, it looks as if there's some growing optimism among some high-level marketers.

In its Spring 2009 Media Economy Report, Advertiser Perceptions found that it's those holding the purse strings who are most eager to jump back into the fray and willing to increase spending in this year's upfront. More than one-third (37%) of upper-level marketers, which the report describes as directors, VPs and higher, said they plan to increase their ad spending compared with last year's TV upfront. A slightly higher 39% said they will maintain their ad spending, while a quarter intend to decrease it.

The percentage of upper-level marketers willing to increase spending is more than double that in every other category Advertiser Perceptions surveyed, including lower-level marketers (17%), agency planners (16%) and agency buyers (16%).

Ken Pearl, CEO of Advertiser Perceptions, said the study of 1,599 marketing and agency executives, conducted in March and April, also revealed a "leveling off" of the pessimistic outlook held by marketers and agencies earlier this year. The surveyed group included 1,118 who make online-spending determinations, 888 who decide on print spending and 627 who decide on TV spending.

The study showed that just as many marketers and agencies (29%) are willing to increase their ad spending as are looking to decrease it. In the November version of the study, Advertiser Perceptions found that only 26% were willing to increase spending, while 30% were looking to decrease.

"It definitely seems that the slide in advertising optimism is leveling off finally, and we may be poised to see some real positive news, hopefully, as we look out ahead six months to a year," Mr. Pearl said. "And what's really interesting is those upper-level marketers tend to generally lead the way."

The study found that the number of media brands being considered in print (12), online (13) and TV (15) are nearly identical to what they were three months before this latest study. But the conversion rate -- that is, the ratio of those who said they were considering advertising with a particular media brand vs. those who will advertise with a particular media brand -- in the online space is down eight percentage points to 32% vs. 40% back in November. For print, the conversion rate is 35%, down from 37%, and for TV it's 50%, down from 51%. Despite the low conversion rate online, marketers are optimistic about the sector, with more than half (53%) saying they will increase their spending in online display in the next six months, 49% saying they plan to increase their spending in search and 53% saying they're looking to increase their mobile spending.

Broadcast TV (18%), magazines (14%), national (6%) and local newspapers (11%), and radio (18%) saw much smaller percentages of marketers willing to increase their ad spending in the next six months, continuing the trend Advertiser Perceptions saw back in November.

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Who Plans to Spend and Who Doesn't

29% expect clients to increase ad spending in the next six months
30% expect clients to decrease ad spending in the next six months

29% plan to increase ad spending
27% plan to decrease ad spending

Higher-level titles (director/VP/CMO):
31% plan to increase ad spending
31% plan to decrease ad spending

Lower-level titles (manager/buyer/planner):
27% plan to increase ad spending
28% plan to decrease ad spending

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