Events lead the way in marketing spend according to Bellwether report

Events are the key beneficiary of a sustained upturn in total marketing spend, according to the latest Bellwether report. The report is researched and published by S&P Global on behalf of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA). The report features original data drawn from a panel of around 300 UK marketing professionals and provides a key indicator of the health of the economy. 

The quarterly study, which analyses marketers’ confidence and budget choices, found that the category of ‘events’ saw budget expansion in Q1 2024 of +23.1% from a previous +15.9% in Q4 2023, as companies continue to show a strong appetite for face-to-face engagement with customers. 

This marks the ninth successive quarter that an expansion of events marketing has been recorded. Moreover, it is the strongest rise recorded by the survey since data collection for event marketing spend began 11 years ago. 

In comparison with other growth forms of marketing, events outperformed direct marketing (+7%), sales promotion (+4.9%), market research (+1.4%) and PR (+0.6%). 

Main media marketing fell from a positive net balance in Q4 2023 of 1.9% to -0.7% in Q1. This was driven by declines in OOH (-10.8%), published brands (-5.7%) and audio (-4.5%), which “slightly offset growth” in other areas such as online (+7.1%) and video (+0.8%).

Total marketing budgets however saw ‘solid expansion’ in Q1 in a quarterly run of continued growth that dates back to the second quarter of 2021. Some 24.4% of UK marketing professionals surveyed increased their overall marketing budgets in the first quarter of 2024, while 15% decreased them.

For this new financial year, events will continue to be the main area for budget expansion, according to the IPA’s Bellwether. 

A net balance of +18.7% of marketers anticipate upping their event spending compared with the previous year.

This was followed by direct marketing with a net balance of +11.9%, main media advertising with +10.1%, PR with +6.3% and sales promotions with +6.0%. 

“Events and direct marketing have performed well in quarterly budget revisions in recent times, and anecdotal evidence indicates a desire among companies to continue investing in marketing tools which have yielded good results,” said the report.