How will marketing spending change through a troubled 2023 economy?

Some of the UK's biggest brands say the majority of money they move will go to short-term, brand marketing.

For the advertiser umbrella group ISBA, data-driven media consultancy Ebiquity surveyed 59 marketers from major brands, collectively representing £1.5 billion in ad spend.

Sixty-nine percent said their 2023 media budgets would be influenced by an expected recession, with marketers under scrutiny to justify spending.

So, what about ad spend that will remain in the market? According to the 2023 UK Media Budgets Flash Survey:

The big change in behaviour seen in the research is a different emphasis in the way that money will be allocated next year, with greater emphasis on short-term, brand marketing.

Thirty-one per cent of respondents say they will seek to boost branding, compared to 22% who are focused on increased performance spend in 2023.

Radio and digital audio are amongst the channels brands say they will spend more on.

At times like these, it is often thought brands flock to performance digital marketing channels, which offer targeting, control and attribution.

But the ISBA/Ebiquity study - whose respondents included 11 of the UK's top 50 advertisers, averaging a £25 million ad spend per brand - shows brands are "committed to maintaining planned investments in media", according to ISBA - chiefly, through staying visible.

Airbnb switched its advertising strategy from performance marketing, including search engines, toward brand-building in 2019, believing the role of marketing is "education", not "to buy customers" - and found results so favourable that it made the switch permanent.

There is plenty of research, going back decades, showing how brands that invest through recessions while rivals pull back are those which can emerge ahead.

We are about to find out whether that proves to be correct again and, if it does, who the beneficiaries may be.