Editor's comment: A silver lining amid the gloom

Noelle McElhatton
Noelle McElhatton

Listen to marketers, agency chiefs and, ahem, trade magazine editors, and you wouldn't think it possible. But, amid the economic doom and gloom, the year the Jeremiahs had written off as a non-starter turned out to be a positive one.

Marketer confidence, as indicated in last year's IPA Bellwether surveys, may have been volatile, but in the final reckoning brands geared up for growth and opened their marketing purses.

In 2010, the top 100 advertisers' spend on traditional media - that is, TV, outdoor, radio and magazines - grew by 13% overall to nearly £40bn, according to our Top 100 Advertisers league table.

The headlines are impressive. A total of 17 of the top 25 advertisers increased their spend last year, with the cutthroat competition in telecoms and retail being a significant driver. Key brands in both sectors registered mostly double-digit leaps in spend.

TV was the stand-out media performer (Nielsen Media Research's data does not include digital), after two grim years of decline. Last year brands' adspend on the box grew by 17%, as stay-at-home audiences held up and advertisers viewed the channel as delivering greater value.

Clearly, brands switched to recovery mode in 2010 and this thought should help dispel the pessimism of the past two years.

We still need to be cautious, however. The economy remains fragile, as does marketer confidence. We don't yet know what effect the government's spending cuts will have on consumer confidence, nor what surging commodity prices will do to FMCG marketing budgets.

Last week's Japanese earthquake and resulting humanitarian disaster is a blow to the world economy and further underlines just how shaky any predictions of a sustained recovery will be.

Noelle.McElhatton@haymarket.com

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