Holiday Advertising Levels Hold Steady, but Social Media Grows

On the heels of greater optimism for the 2010 holiday shopping season, 63 percent of CMOs report that marketing budgets have remained flat according to respondents in the BDO USA Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, continuing a trend from the 2009 and 2008 seasons.  Very few, 17 percent, expect to increase advertising budgets, a 2 point drop since last year, and 20 percent cite a decrease in spending levels, a 6 point drop from each of the last two years.

Despite this, retailers are expecting better sales this year than in prior years, perhaps an indication of more effective advertising platforms.

Tried and true e-commerce marketing methods still reign when it comes to finding retailers. Search engine and previous shopping experience tie for the top method customers use to find retailers online with 30 percent each.  Email promotions are expected to be the highest traffic source for 24 percent of retailers and social networking rounds out the top three traffic drivers with 12 percent of respondents reporting it as the primary source of online traffic.

Even though it’s a low priority area, accounting for less than 20 percent of marketing efforts for 83 percent of surveyed CMOs, social networking is making great strides.  A full 75 percent of CMOs believe they will be including social networking sites to some degree in their 2010 holiday marketing strategy, an increase of 24 percent from 2009 survey results.

Within the small social networking universe there is a clear winner, however. Facebook, and its 500 million users, tops CMO marketing efforts with 92 percent claiming the site as their primary social network marketing platform. Twitter has also come out strong in 2010, with 61 percent of CMOs focusing marketing efforts there, an 11 percent gain over the 2009 season. The remaining major social networks of YouTube (20%), LinkedIn (15%) and MySpace (8%) are also expected to play a key role in holiday marketing.

Broadcast and online advertising budgets took a heavy bite out of print advertising this year.  While print remains the top advertising avenue, with 42 percent of CMOs claiming print as the largest piece of their marketing budget, CMOs reporting broadcast as their top line item have nearly doubled from 13 percent to 25 percent. Online advertising also saw near double-digit increases this year from 18 to 27 percent, suggesting retailers are paying close attention to e-commerce.