2016 direct marketing channel spending trends

Source: Target Marketing

Every year, Target Marketing completes an extensive Media Usage Survey, asking readers how they’re allocating the budgets, what media they’re favoring and more. What follows is data from the second section of the 2016 survey.

So where exactly is that money going? This chart breaks down each marketing channel (or “method,” because not all of the ways you can allocate budget today are what you’d call “media channels”) and whether spending is increasing, decreasing or staying the same in that channel, or if the respondent doesn’t use that channel at all. We added television ad spending for the first time this year, and the answer is pretty surprising.
3 Quick Spending Takeaways

  1. The Biggest Winners: More than half of respondents are increasing budgets on online advertising and social media engagement.
  2. The Most Popular Marketing Channel: Email, with 97 percent reporting they use it in some way.
  3. The Boob Tube: TV looks like it’s still seen as a “sucker’s bet” to many direct marketers.

What We See in the Channel Spending Trends
Looking at how marketers are adjusting their spending on these marketing methods, these five trends emerge:

1. Digital Is the Destination: When you look for the channels where the largest number of respondents are increasing budgets, especially the ones where a majority or plurality are increasing, you find online advertising, email, mobile, SEO, SEM, and social media engagement and advertising. That agrees with what we’re seeing in the broad category spending chart on Page 22, as well. Online marketing is where most of the growth is happening.

2. Direct Mail Holding Steady: About 25 percent of respondents are not using mail (last year, it was 22 percent), but 25 percent are increasing spending, too, and 44 percent are holding steady. That means 69 percent of users are holding mail spending steady or increasing it. When direct mail service providers say, “Mail’s in the mix,” this backs that up. The channel has a role, and our respondents are employing it.

3.  Mobile Is Confusing: Almost the same percentage of respondents are increasing budgets on mobile as there are those not using it at all. Only 27 percent of respondents are keeping budgets the same. When I look at the mobile spending stats, I always wonder what exactly respondents consider “mobile” spending vs., for example, Web spending that’s optimized for mobile, too. I suspect we’re seeing that play out here, as well. If most Facebook traffic comes from mobile, do you count a Facebook promoted post, even targeted at mobile users, as social or mobile? Some of the charts to come shed more light on this.

4. What’s Up With TV? This is the first time we’ve included TV ads in the survey in addition to DRTV, and I’m shocked both of those channels are seeing such limited use. I realize many old school direct marketers see TV as a money sink, but with the success of DRTV and increasing abilities to target TV ads, I was expecting higher usage numbers.

5. Few Respondents Are Decreasing Spend Anywhere. No channel is seeing more than 7 percent of respondents decrease its spending. Marketers are reaching to do more, not necessarily letting go of what they already do.