Event marketing budgets fall as ad spend rises

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

Event marketing budgets were squeezed tighter in the last quarter, new research shows, even as spending on other types of advertising rose.

According to the latest Bellwether Report from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), funds devoted to events marketing fell by 1.1 per cent during the third quarter of this year. Compounding the 0.9 per cent decline reported in Q2, the figures show that bookers are working harder to produce events with even fewer resources.

Andrew Wilson, city head of Birmingham for IPA, says that financial pressures are encouraging more and more organisations to redirect their marketing budgets to methods that demonstrate quicker returns.

“Agencies are being challenged to provide commercially driven solutions with quicker tangible returns. That is evidenced by the areas of growth being focused around the internet, while some spend such as events and market research has declined,” he explained.

This may also account for other areas which saw reductions in their budgets, including public relations, market research and even direct marketing, all of which saw drops of between 1.7 and 3.4 per cent.

Although these proportions may seem small, at a time when budgets are already being stretched event bookers might find that further reductions make planning far more difficult. Encouraging delegates to pay for their places sooner rather than later through an effective online event registration system could be vital to make sure cash flow doesn’t dry up.

Meanwhile, the Bellwether report shows that lower-cost marketing channels saw their budgets increase considerably. Top of the list was internet advertising, with online search and SEO benefiting from greater resources in particular.

In fact, within many organisations this is where event marketing budgets are being redirected. Paul Simonet, creative strategy director at Imagination, says “an increasing part of all experience/event budgets are targeted at creating shareable content around the events which fits in with the general internet and content boom".

Overall, marketing spend actually rose at the fastest pace in more than 12 years during Q3, the research found - but for event planners, resources are becoming more scarce.

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