While about three-quarters (77%) of marketers surveyed in the first two months of this year are still challenged to reduce marketing/advertising expenses, that's down from 83% a year ago and 93% two years ago.
This latest survey of 108 client-side marketers by the Association of National Advertisers also showed that 63% indicated that their budgets had either increased or remained the same -- a definite improvement over 54% in January 2010 and 29% in January 2009 who reported same/increased budgets.
Advertising budgets are also more stable. Just 37% reported ad budgets being decreased this year, compared to 46% last year and 71% in 2009.
Looking ahead six months, 22% are expecting budget increases versus 19% last year, and 49% expect budgets to remain the same.
While some relief from financial pressure is positive, marketers will clearly continue to be challenged to become "smarter and more precise" about spending, observed ANA President/CEO Bob Liodice.
The top ways that marketers report reducing spending are reducing departmental travel/expenses (70%), challenging agencies to reduce internal expenses and/or identify cost reductions (67%), reducing production budgets (55%) and cutting media budgets (49%).