Digital dominates global marketing spend: 53% of marketers to boost social media budgets

Nielsen reveals that social media is marketers’ ‘most bankable’ channel - but few are confident about ROI measurements on their marketing spend

Marketers’ confidence in measuring full funnel return on investment (ROI) stands at just 54% (compared to 17% that were not confident, using the same criteria), while more than half expect their social media marketing budgets to increase over the next year, according to new research.

Digital marketing channels will dominate spend in the next year, finds the survey of 2,000 global marketers by Nielsen. There was a 53% aggregate increase in those expecting to increase their social media marketing budgets over the next versus those looking to downsize. Just under one in five thought their social media budget would increase by more than 50%

The report reveals that social media is marketers’ 'most bankable' asset, with 64% saying it’s their most effective paid channel and two-thirds saying they are planning to inflate their social media budgets more than any other channel next year.

Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram were highlighted as successes, with both their popularity and growing brand successes found to be influencing increased spend, though Nielsen remarked that EMEA marketers are planning to increase their social media spend at a lower rate than others. Meanwhile, respondents revealed that they are not prioritising engagement with Gen Z consumers despite the boost in social media spend.

Digital channels to see marketing budget boosts

Other digital channels were not far behind with a 50% aggregate rise in those forecasting a budget boost for online and mobile display, 49% for online and mobile video, 45% for search and 37% for connected TV.

On the other hand, there was just a 20% aggregate increase for budgets in linear TV, a 13% rise in print and a 15% uptick in cinema marketing spend.

Behind social media, 58% were extremely or very confident in the effectiveness of online/mobile, search and video marketing, while 51% were confident about the effectiveness of email. 

The report said: “While 61% of global survey respondents say they are confident in their ability to measure the impact of brand building, their planned limited increases in ad spending across traditional mass reach channels highlights a possible misalignment between top business goals and marketing tactics. It also highlights the lesser amount of confidence among marketers in the effectiveness of traditional channels when compared against digital ones.”

Lack of confidence in data and measurement

Despite 69% of marketers believing that first-party data is vital for their strategies and campaigns, and 72% believing they can access quality data, just 26% are fully confident in their audience data. 

More than a third (36%) of marketers surveyed said they had difficulty with each of data access, identity resolution and actionable data insights, while 32% said they were experiencing difficulties over how to handle the third-party cookie phaseout.

Confidence in measuring ROI of the full-funnel stood at just 54%, but this dropped to below 50% when online and mobile video was removed. Confidence in podcasts was also teetering – as almost half of marketers plan to increase their spending in this channel but just 44% were confident in measuring the ROI. 

Even social media, which had the highest confidence level, stood globally at only 64%, though this rose to 86% in Latin America and dropped to 55% in APAC.

Marketers need confidence in their data to focus on brand building and customer acquisition in equal measures, but also to do this through upper and lower-funnel tactics, Nielsen said.

The report added: “To overcome these challenges, marketers need to prioritise their data strategies, complete with an investment in first party data. For brands that don’t have the ability to capture data directly from consumers, relationships with data partners who collect customised, quality data in consent compliant ways will help improve campaign targeting and performance.”

Brand awareness and gaining customers are the targets

The report, which for the first time has gone global includes insights from marketers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), finds that brand awareness and new customer acquisition remain as marketers’ top objectives over the next year. The research found that marketers continue to increase spending across social media and online channels including display and video.

Ensuring that measurements are non-siloed is also high on the priorities list, besides developing personalised strategies and “becoming more purpose driven”, said the report, which advised that it was vital for marketers to use data to champion personalisation strategies.

Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Nielsen said: “This research showcased that marketers want to put money into channels to deliver immediate ROI, however we also see that they must be agile in the year ahead and work across the entire marketing funnel to reinforce brand awareness and acquire more customers. 

‘With the upcoming elimination of third- party cookies, it’s understandable to see marketers prioritising personalisation and aligning their brand with causes their customers care about.”


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