The latest Bellwether – which draws data from a panel of 300 marketers and has run since 2000 – reveals that marketing budgets were revised down for a second successive quarter in Q3, to the greatest extent since the end of 2009, with 23 per cent of companies reporting a reduction in marketing budgets compared to 18 per cent reporting a rise.

Revisions to total marketing budgets

The Bellwether says that while some budget areas, such as internet advertising, were revised up, all other categories saw declines, with the area termed ‘all other’ (i.e. general below-the-line marketing) seeing its greatest fall in three years.

A key difference in the Bellwether and CIM reports is how marketers perceive their own organisation’s prospects. While half of all marketers responding to the CIM anticipate their organisation’s financial and growth targets will increase in their next fiscal period, the Bellwether suggests that business confidence among marketing executives in relation to their own company’s prospects has weakened compared to three months earlier.

Analysis of marketing budgets in Q3

Ultimately, however, it appears that both pieces of research agree that 2013 is set to be a year of uncertainty for marketers. Even those executives with confidence, expecting their own businesses to grow, are unlikely to avoid cuts to marketing budgets and the inevitable demands to do more with less.