Digital Marketing Spend on the Rise Despite Economic Downturn

Survey Shows Need to Fuse Business Strategy, Creative Excellence and Technology Depth to Drive Superior and Measurable Results Across all Channels Including Social Media and Mobile

BOSTON – Sapient’s (NASDAQ: SAPE) announced the results of a national online digital marketing and interactive advertising survey that delivers insights into the current marketing practices at leading organizations during the economic downturn. The survey polled 81 chief marketing officers and senior marketing professionals directly responsible for managing their digital agency as well as their organization’s digital marketing budget.

Key findings from the survey include:

Digital Marketing Spend on the Rise: New Media/Social Media Channels Take Center Stage

Over the last six months, 54 percent of respondents stated that marketing expectations within their organization have increased and confidence in digital marketing remains strong, with 65 percent stating that their budget has stayed the same or gone up over this period. Respondents also voiced strong agreement that right now new media/social media channels are becoming more critical, with a vast majority (77%) stating that they will take on a greater focus in their overall interactive strategy. In fact, if forced to decrease spending in one area due to a reduction in marketing budget, 37 percent stated print, 20 percent mobile, 14 percent radio and only 6 percent replied social media. Additional findings include:

* 65% stated that in the current economic climate, it is easier to secure organizational “buy in” on new media/social media programs than it was one year ago.

New Media/Social Media Channels are Presenting Significant Challenges

With digital media investment on the rise and new media/social media programs taking on greater importance, validating these investments is more critical than ever. In fact, virtually all respondents (91%) stated that the ability to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns is more important now than it was in 2008. That being said, respondents cited challenges when it comes to tracking social media campaigns. Specifically, when asked which digital channel is your agency best able to track in real-time, only 7 percent stated social networking, with the most common answers being email (30%), digital advertising (28%) and search (22%).

New Media/Social Media Programs are Failing to Meet Expectations

While most respondents (77%) stated that they have at least one new media/social media marketing program in place they also called into question the performance of these campaigns. Specifically, when asked which component of their current digital marketing programs is not delivering the desired results right now, the number one response was social networking (21%), followed by mobile advertising (16%). When asked which component of their current digital marketing programs are performing best, only 11 percent stated social networking, with 33 percent responding search and 23 percent email and 14 percent digital advertising.

“While the marketing world continues to embrace new media channels, a majority of their efforts are spent creating and launching campaigns and not devising an underlying business strategy that ensures the success of the effort,” said Sapient executive director and worldwide creative officer Gaston Legorburu. “To be impactful, social media—like successful multi-channel marketing—requires a sound plan of attack at the foundation and then the technology and creative skills to bring the campaign to life, monitor and measure its performance at any given point in time and fine-tune it as needed.”

Mobile Remains a Mystery

Similar to new media/social media campaigns, the mobile phone is also becoming a more integral component of today’s marketing arsenal. That being said, when asked which digital channel they are best able to track in real-time, not a single respondent (0%) answered mobile. Additionally when asked which component of their current digital marketing programs is delivering the best results, not one respondent (0%) answered mobile.

“Social media and mobile present a tremendous opportunity to most businesses but they also come with a great deal of risk,” adds Legorburu.

For brands looking to more fully leverage these mediums, Legorburu stresses the importance of having an agency partner that possesses a complete 360 degree skill set that marries strategic and creative expertise and an in-depth, hands-on knowledge of both the mobile and the social worlds. In regard to the latter, Legorburu emphasizes that technologies and trends are moving at record speeds—in many instances outpacing what the marketers themselves are using—and agencies must keep pace with these ongoing evolutions to stay one step ahead of the consumer.

To receive a copy of the full-text survey, please contact Gail Scibelli at [email protected] or via 305-581-0095.

About Sapient Interactive

Sapient Interactive, a division of Sapient (NASDAQ:SAPE), is one of the largest and most innovative interactive marketing and technology services firms in the world. It creates immersive and memorable multi-channel brand experiences that deliver measurable results for clients—including major brands such as Celebrity Cruises, Honda Jet, Sony Electronics and Times Online. One of the only firms to intelligently integrate strategy, creative, advertising, media services, analytics and technology expertise under one roof, Sapient Interactive offers unparalleled experience in emerging channels including social media, mobile devices such as the iPhone, digital in-store displays, self-service kiosks and traditional media. Headquartered in Boston, Sapient Interactive has operations in 22 major cities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit