Wherever The Money Comes From, Media Budgets Seem To Keep Rising

by , Oct 27, 2011, 2:20 PM
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Does it matter where advertisers' TV budgets are coming from?

For a long time -- even when cable TV was in its nascent stages during the 1980s and early 1990s -- media sellers always asked, “Is cable TV taking money from broadcast TV? Are budgets being shifted -- or rising overall?” Answering the questions was always a fun guessing game -- and perhaps not all that crucial in the long term.

Fast-forward about two or three decades. At events such as the OMMA conferences, the same question is being asked about digital platforms: “Are they taking money from traditional TV budgets?”

Why such inquiries? For some digital marketers, it's important that they compete well with other media.

New survey results from the Association of National Advertisers show that both traditional TV and new media are doing well. Now, one may argue that new media can be a mix of different kinds of media -- video, display, search, social and email -- with TV overlap. So this isn't an exact apples-to-apples comparison.

According to the survey, 47% of marketers said they increased their TV budgets since 2009, while 23% said their TV budgets decreased. At the same time, 44% of marketers said they are creating incremental budgets for new media, up from 37% in 2007. 

The key takeaway may be that the number of marketers shifting funds from existing media budgets decreased to 44% from 63% in 2007.

Huh. Does that mean advertising budgets could be rising overall -- more for everyone? In theory, yes.  In the old days, many media analysts believed new media dollars -- for cable, for example -- flowed from that hard-to-pin down area of promotion, including coupons, special discounting and the like.

Good journalism -- as well as some good media marketing research -- can be distilled into one tight phrase: “Follow the money.” But for most media budget trends, including TV and new media/digital advertising, we don't seem to be any closer to an answer. Maybe we need to just follow our instincts, hunches, and consumer data, and leave it at that.

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