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Digital Media Spend Will Overtake Traditional by 2016: New Study Finds More than Half of Senior-Level Marketers Expect Big Budget Shift Within the Next Two Years

More than half of marketing executives expect to spend more on digital media than traditional channels within the next two years, according to a survey from marketing mix optimization solution provider ThinkVine.

A quarter of senior-level marketers say that their spending in online display, social, mobile and other digital channels currently exceeds spending on TV, radio, print and other traditional media. Another 31 percent believe their digital budgets will overtake their traditional spend within the next two years.

Most marketers said they are confident that digital spending will eventually exceed traditional spending, with only 3 percent of respondents saying the shift will never happen.

While the trend to digital media is accelerating, ThinkVine CEO Mark Battaglia said brands shouldn’t go "all in" on digital marketing now until they have the information they need to understand the sales impact of that spend.

"Marketers shouldn’t blindly follow the crowd," he said, in a news release. "Consumers in general spend more time with digital media, but it’s important for each brand to know how their specific customers consume media and how different media types work together to achieve sales and brand objectives. Companies can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to their marketing mix."

The survey found that an additional 15 percent of marketers anticipate investing more in digital than traditional channels this year and 16 percent of this group expects the shift to happen next year. Another 24 percent think digital will exceed traditional in two to five years, and 8 percent say it will happen in five years or more. Just 11 percent don’t expect digital to surpass traditional in the foreseeable future.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • The insurance, entertainment, finance and technology industries are leading the way in digital adoption. At least 35 percent of marketers from these industries report that they already dedicate half or more of their budget to digital (40 percent for insurance, 38 percent for entertainment, 36 percent for finance and 35 percent for technology).
  • Thirty-six percent of companies with $1 billion or more in revenue have already seen digital spending outpace traditional or expect to see the shift within the next year. By contrast, 9 percent of companies with less than $100 million in revenue don’t expect this shift to occur.
  • Depending on the channel, one fifth to one-quarter of marketers said that their ability to determine historic ROI by channel for digital display, search, social media and mobile was "excellent." By contrast, one-third rated their ability as either "fair" or "poor."

"The survey results show that most marketers are moving budgets to digital channels before they have all the information they’d like to have," said Battaglia. "They told us that they rely more on factors like experience, perceived current performance, and historical spending and trends than tracking and model-driven analytics. As a result, there is still an opportunity for marketers to improve results and gain a competitive advantage by using data and analytics in new ways across the marketing mix."

The ThinkVine survey polled 200 CMOs, marketing vice presidents and directors at companies with less than $100 million to more than $10 billion in revenue about their marketing budgets and spending projections. A full report on the survey results will be published in May. Get more information here.

Edited by Richard Carufel

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