Ad spend is still the lifeblood of most publishers, even as they grapple with the decision of which form that advertising should take. So it’s no surprise that we’d pay attention to reports like the quarterly bellwethers from the Institute of Practioners in Advertising (IPA), which examines trends in marketing spend over the previous three months.

So the reports that growth in marketing budgets fell to an 11 quarter low at the end of 2015 should, in theory, be a cause for concern.

The bellwether demonstrates that although marketing budgets have continued to grow for the last 13 quarters, the three months at the end of 2015 saw the smallest upward revision in marketing budgets in nearly three years.

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The bellwether attributes the blame for the 0.5 percent increase on a “softening in the rate of UK economic expansion which was viewed as a key factor behind a heightened caution amongst clients and marketing executives with regard to their budgets in Q4”.

As a result, the sentiments of the 300 respondees to the survey with regard to marketing budgets is less strongly positive that at at time in the previous 13 quarters.

But there’s some positive news for media publishers in those results.

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Main media ad spend – what you might think of the traditional and legacy forms of media – is up 1.1 percent, far and away outpacing the 0.5 percent average growth. And that in turn is dwarfed (at least in terms of growth if not actual spend) by the growth in internet ad spend of 6.9. That’s less than the 7.3 percent growth in ad spend from the previous quarter, but still positive news for publishers. 

The bellwether report states:

“Despite subdued overall budget growth, panellists signalled an ongoing desire to invest in the digital marketing space. Latest data showed that internet marketing budgets were again raised, with the respective net balance at +6.9% (Q3: +7.8%).”

The bellwether also shows continuing growth in spend on both PR and events (0.6 percent growth for both), good news for publishers whose monetisation strategy is increasingly reliant on events as well.