Marketers Look to Digital as Cure-All

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

(Advertising Age) – It’s no longer just the bright shiny object of marketing: Digital is fast becoming finance’s silver bullet. Marketer after marketer has been telling Wall Street that while they may be cutting, or at least controlling, the growth of ad spending overall, they are still getting the same or even more bang for their buck, thanks to the miracle drug of digital media.

Mattel, Darden Restaurants, Heineken, Clorox, Big Lots and Burlington Stores have all talked about hiking digital spending on recent investor calls. But it’s consumer packaged goods executives, once viewed as laggards of the digital revolution, that have jumped on this bandwagon particularly hard. Unilever, Procter & Gamble Co. and Kraft Foods Group have in recent quarters said digital accounts for 20% to 35% of their total media or marketing outlays.

That puts some of them beyond the global average of 24% of media budgets now going to digital estimated by ZenithOptimedia — effectively making them canaries in the coal mine of digital-media effectiveness.

And there are signs the air isn’t all clear: Some of the companies talking the most about increasing digital investments are simultaneously posting slower or disappointing sales results. Given all the myriad factors that influence sales, it’s impossible to draw a straight line between digital spending and results. Still, it raises questions about whether more digital spending is really delivering more for the money and whether marketers, still pressing to increase the share of funds they spend on digital, may already be spending too much.

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