Investment by brands in event and experiential marketing grew again in the first quarter of 2019 by 3.4% up slightly on Q4 2018, according to the quarterly Bellweather Report from the IPA, and has remained in growth over the past few months despite the uncertainty over Brexit.
Following one of the worst quarters for some time, surprisingly overall marketing budgets increased in Q1 2019 by 8.7%, up considerably on Q4 2019’s 0% growth. The best performing category was digital, which saw its net balance jump from 2.1% to 17.2%. Marketers also showed a strong appetite to enhance their digital footprints, with search and SEO spend up 14.2% vs -3.9% last quarter, as well as targeted advertising on mobile which grew by 3.6%.
Signs suggest this surprise overall quarterly boost could be short-lived, with the Bellwether Report indicating that marketers are still being reserved in their budget projections for the rest of the 2019/20 financial year. A modest balance of 3.4% anticipate budgets to grow during this period, notably weaker than past forecasts and the lowest figure since 2009.
What’s more, marketers’ confidence levels remain significantly negative. Following the first downbeat outlook towards own their firms’ prospects since Q3 2012 during the previous Bellwether survey, the latest data shows no signs of improvement. A net balance of -2.7% brand leaders indicated a pessimistic assessment towards their company’s finances, compared to -0.9% during the final quarter of 2018, showcasing a stronger degree of negativity.
All this shows just how significant the continual growth in experiential spend over this period really is and how important marketers are finding the discipline in engaging consumers a time of economic uncertainty.