Despite Brexit fears, weak global growth and ongoing government spending cuts, spending on marketing rose in the first quarter of this year, according to research by The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) last month.
Its quarterly Bellwether Report, researched and published by Markit Economics for the institute, revealed that overall marketing spend grew for the 14th successive quarter in Q1 of this year, with internet marketing seeing the largest quarterly growth, from 6.9% in Q4 of 2015 to 9.8% in Q1 this year, the 27th quarter of expansion.
However, direct marketing budgets saw a 4.9% spending drop.
Meanwhile the Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report released last week revealed that UK advertising expenditure grew at its highest rate since 2010 in 2015 increasing by 7.5% to £20.1bn. This report found that direct mail had seen a 1.4% increase year-on-year to £1.9bn, with out-of-home up 3.9% to £1.1bn.
And the DMA’s latest Annual Door Drop Industry Report, which covered 2014, showed volumes were down by 5.9% but revenue had increased by 1.5% to £263m.
The issue is that marketing can no longer be divided into neat definitions says DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri. Print has firmly established itself in the digital world.
“It would be foolish to just judge print by volumes, we should judge it by the effect it’s having,” she says.
She points to the “cream of the crop”, the companies that triumphed at the DMA’s 2015 Awards. For example, triple gold and triple silver award-winner, Wunderman, which produced a print poster including highly reflective ink containing particles of silver for the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust.
This gave anyone with a cameraphone the tools to diagnose retinoblastoma – an aggressive and deadly eye cancer that affects young children. The eye showed up with a white pupil when a picture of the poster was taken with a cameraphone. The same test can be applied to a child in real life.
The campaign was picked up by the press and reached more than 69 million people, the video garnered more than a million views and was shared 81,000 times on Facebook and 122,000 times on Twitter.
Meanwhile OgilvyOne’s interactive campaign for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, which won two gold and one silver awards used a Real Digital International-printed leaflet with an RFID chip inside that connected to digital screens at the Westfield Stratford shopping centre in London and showed a dog ‘following’ shoppers who carried the leaflet around the centre. That encouraged people to visit a microsite, which attracted nearly 2,500 unique visits and more than 320,000 video views, and the main Battersea website.
“You can see in the print work it’s gone beyond print,” Aldighieri says. “People are using more customer data and behavioural insights. We talk about smarter print, but also more creative – the days of ‘spray and pray’ have definitely gone.”
For OgilvyOne EMEA joint chief creative officer Emma de la Fosse, “print works”.
“For many of our clients print is still a highly effective medium. However, it does need to be targeted in the correct way,” she says. “If you are driving print with the right data then there is a greater chance that the right people will see, and engage with, your campaign than click-through rates on banners.
“From a creative perspective, the possibilities for print are greater than ever before.”
It’s a trend that ProCo is also seeing, according to Andy Lydiatt, whose job title is, tellingly, ‘solutions consultant’. He says: “The opportunities we’re seeing coming through aren’t diminishing, they’re probably increasing, they’re just different. Print is just a part of the solution, rather than the be-all and end-all.”
In fact ProCo has seen an increase in orders from online businesses in the past six months.
“It’s quite exciting in a strange way. If you get this is where it sits, it’s a massive opportunity. You’ve got to do it differently, you’ve got to try and understand where print fits, rather than fight against it,” he says.
That is a trend that the current holder of PrintWeek’s Marketing Campaign of the Year Award, DST Output, says it is continuing.
“Clients are becoming more creative, testing new formats to ensure packs stand out. Our product development team in Nottingham have never been so busy,” says head of creative development Fraser Church, who is seeing a growth in hybrid online/offline campaigns.
“Over the last two years we have seen the volume of packs we mail increase by over 17% to more than 850 million per year. We are definitely seeing an increase in our clients’ activity levels.”
The latest available Royal Mail accounts back this up. It saw revenues from marketing mail grow by 3% in the first half of 2015.
Church adds: “Clients are also working with us to release the power of their data to make content more dynamic, tailored and relevant, taking advantage of the latest print technology which allows for detailed personalisation on a mass scale.
“For clients it is all about return on investment. We are finding that they are willing to pay a bit more per pack if we can help deliver incremental returns by making their communication more engaging.”
With Advertising Association/Warc currently forecasting a 5.5% and the Bellwether a real-term 3.3% increase in ad spend for the rest of this year, the opportunities are there.
“My view is the future is pretty bright,” Aldighieri says. “We’re seeing continual innovation in technology and continual pushing of boundaries around customer data and insight to drive creativity. Used within a responsible framework that bodes really well for the print industry. The opportunities are endless.”