Digital marketing spending expected to increase by almost 15% until the end of 2021, study says

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Digital marketing spending is expected to increase by almost 15% until the end of 2021 and return to pre-pandemic levels of expected growth, while traditional advertising continues the decreasing trend, with expectations of almost 1% drop, according to the latest edition of Deloitte Chief Marketing (CMO) Survey. Additionally, the survey highlights that digital marketing has become a pillar for companies’ success during this pandemic year. Across all sectors, the contribution of digital marketing to the companies’ performance increased in average by 33% in 2020, marketers reported.

The main areas of investment made to improve digital marketing performance were optimization of companies’ websites (74%), digital media and search (65%) and direct digital marketing (57%), the study shows. Industries spending the most on website optimization are consumer services and transportation, while for digital media and search and direct digital marketing, pharma/biotech, consumer packaged goods and tech/platform/software are the sectors investing the most to improve their digital marketing activities.

The study also shows that marketing budget allocations to mobile and social media increased slightly compared to the previous year, as mobile moved from 14% to 19% of marketing budgets and social media only grew from 13% to 15%. Both categories are expected to grow significantly in budget allocations over the next five years, with mobile activities expected to represent 36%, and social media, 25% of the marketing budget. Industries spending the greatest portion of their marketing budgets on mobile activities are consumer services and transportation, while energy and pharma/biotech lag in their current spend. Additionally, top industry spenders on social media activities are communications/media and consumer services, while banking and finance spend the least on social media.

“As digital marketing activities peeked during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now the time for marketers to enhance their overall strategy by leveraging the digital channel and use data to create personalized experience for all customers. The study highlights that organizations should continue to vary their tactics and strategies by focusing on: the development of digital interfaces for better interaction with customers, the expansion into new offerings, the improvement of data integration that allows for end-to-end consumer tracking, building partnership and investing in new automation technologies to improve virtual communication with customers,” said Ruxandra Bandila, Marketing and Business Development Director, Deloitte Romania.

AI and machine learning in the marketing toolkit has shown increasing implementation, the study points out, with almost 10% increase in use year over year since 2018. Tech industry is making the biggest investment in AI and machine learning currently, and pharma/biotech, the lowest. Expectations for future AI and machine learning use are even higher and are predicted to increase by almost 20% in the next three years, surveyed marketers stated.

In terms of marketing jobs, the survey shows that marketing hiring projections are optimistic, with an almost 8% increase until the end of 2021 compared to the previous year, when marketers projected a hiring decrease.

Deloitte CMO Survey is based on interviews with more than 350 senior marketers active in 16 industry sectors in US. The survey looks at the impact of COVID-19 on marketing from a budget, performance, talent and organizational perspective.

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