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The application icons of Facebook, Twitter and Google are displayed on an iPhone next to an earphone set in this illustration photo taken in Berlin, June 17, 2013. Ad agencies are considering reducing the amount of money they spend on print, radio and TV, while looking closer at mobile, social media and online.PAWEL KOPCZYNSKI/Reuters

Advertisers are drastically changing their attitudes about how to spend their money most efficiently. And when it comes to traditional media, the news is mostly bad.

Research firm Ipsos Reid has been polling marketing professionals annually for nine years – an overall pool of roughly 3,000 marketers and people from their ad agencies. In the latest numbers released this week, Ipsos reported a trend continuing from previous years: marketers are thinking about significantly reducing the amount of money they spend on media such as print, direct mail, radio and television.

In the latest study, marketers were asked whether they would increase their spending, leave it the same, or decrease for each type of advertising, assuming their overall budget stayed the same.

Like last year, print was down most sharply. Areas of growth included e-mail marketing, mobile, social media and online.

Ipsos Reid cautions that the numbers are not a direct indication of where dollars are heading. But they do reflect sentiment in the marketing community about where money should be spent. And some industry analysts have cautioned that the shift in spending can be overstated.

Marketers are clearly considering that a change is needed in how they spend, however.

Marketers and agencies who reported they would spend more online were asked to specify what kind of digital marketing would draw more money. The biggest proportion, 59 per cent, pointed to branded content – a broad term for advertising that is meant to look more like entertainment that people actually want to consume. This can run the gamut from articles on news websites designed to look like editorial content but actually paid for by an advertiser, to videos that tell a compelling story but go for the soft sell by integrating a brand more subtly, and other examples.

Online video also scored high, with 58 per cent planning to spend more there. Fifty-six per cent said they would spend more on search advertising.

Ad executive Peter Ignazi has suggested the notion of "digital advertising" is so prevalent now, that a distinction between digital and traditional advertising is not needed.

"It's so ingrained now in everyone's lives, that to tease out things and call them digital would be hard, and pointless," said Mr. Ignazi, senior vice-president and executive creative director at BBDO Toronto. "People don't think about consuming things digitally or not. They're just things. Why even think about it that way? ... [Advertisers] want to have their brand be part of the conversation."


How marketers intend to change spending, on a constant budget

Online: +74 per cent

Social media: +72 per cent

Mobile: +69 per cent

E-mail: +24 per cent

Out of home (billboards, transit posters, etc.): –9 per cent

TV: –24 per cent

Radio: –27 per cent

Direct mail: –31 per cent

Print: –39 per cent

Where online marketing spending is going to increase

59 per cent: Branded content

58 per cent: Online video

56 per cent: Search

42 per cent: Display (such as banner ads) purchased through programmatic or real-time (automated) bidding

27 per cent: Display purchased through a cost-per-impression model

Where social media marketing spending is going to increase

70 per cent: Facebook

70 per cent: Twitter

59 per cent: YouTube

43 per cent: LinkedIn

37 per cent: Instagram

22 per cent: Pinterest

15 per cent: Google+

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