Retail Ad Budgets Flat for the Holidays

In the midst of the barrage of circulars, TV ads and email campaigns, it may surprise you to learn that retailers’ holiday and marketing budgets are flat for the holiday season.

According to our Compass Survey of CMOs, 65% say their 2011 holiday marketing and advertising budgets remain the same compared to last year. While 20% of retailers note an increased advertising and marketing budget this holiday season; overall, CMOs cite a budget increase of less than one percent (0.4%). 

With flat budgets, retailers are largely sticking to tried and true channels for their marketing efforts. Forty-four percent of CMOs say they will spend most of their holiday budgets on print advertising, proving that the traditional medium is far from dead. More CMOs (27%, vs. 25% in 2010) say they are allocating the bulk of their holiday advertising and marketing budget to broadcast channels. Ad spend on a pricier medium shows some confidence, but also indicates a need to reach a larger audience in order to capture sales this season. Other budget allocations include online advertising (23%) and outdoor advertising including billboards (5%).

While 23% of CMOs say they are spending the most of their advertising dollars online, the survey did not find a huge growth in marketing through the mobile channel. In fact, despite all of the mobile hype, just 36% of CMOs say they have included mobile in their holiday marketing strategies this year. Of the CMOs incorporating mobile, 84% say it accounts for less than 10% of their holiday marketing efforts.

Still, as my colleague Stephen Wyss told Mobile Marketer, among the CMOs at the top 100 largest retailers (12% of the sample), 58% are including mobile. Larger retailers are in a better position to make significant investments in mobile sites and apps, while mid-size retailers continue to test the waters.

Stay tuned for more on how social media and flash sites are included in the holiday marketing mix.