Though digital marketing budgets are growing in 2016, there are signs of frustration among marketers when it comes to winning boardroom and organisational battles.

Our seventh annual Marketing Budgets Report 2016, sponsored by Oracle Marketing Cloud, was published this week.

The survey of almost 500 company and agency marketers reveals some important trends...

72% are increasing digital marketing budgets

First things first. The outlook for digital marketing budgets is very promising, with 72% of respondents ready to spend more in 2016.

As you can see from the chart below, the proportion of respondents planning to increase digital budgets has been fairly steady for the past five years (rising from 67% in 2011 to 74% in 2012).

However, last year (2015) does stick out slightly as a high watermark, with 79% increasing budgets and only 20% holding things steady.

digital budgets

But are digital marketers battle-weary?

When asked to identify barriers to digital marketing investment, 33% of respondents admitted that 'company culture' was one. In 2015, this figure was only 24%.

Looking more closely at the organisational attitude to digital marketing spend, it seems marketers are a little less bullish than last year as to whether all the battles have been won. 

A smaller proportion of respondents think they are working towards cohesive CX, breaking down silos, securing boardroom buy-in (a significant drop from 71% to 57%), reserving budget for innovation, or breaking the distinction between digital and traditional budgets.

On the positive side, 54% of respondents are planning to recruit more people into their digital team in 2016 - this is an increase from 51% in 2015.

digital fatigue

Has paid media spend dropped in the wake of ad blocking?

There is lots more data in the report about specific channel budgets etc. but I thought I'd finish with the chart below showing planned change in spend on 'earned', 'owned' and 'paid' media.

Earned and owned haven't seen much change from 2015 to 2016 (though 4% are now decreasing earned media budget).

Bigger changes are afoot with paid media though. The proportion of marketers decreasing paid media spend has gone from 9% up to 16%.

That feels fairly substantial and could reflect caution in the market after much publicised panic from publishers and trade bodies about the level of ad blocking and ad fraud.

content slowdown

Subscribers can download the Marketing Budgets Report 2016, sponsored by Oracle Marketing Cloud, now.

Ben Davis

Published 18 April, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)


Stephen Goodridge, Product Manager at Access control systems, PVC Cards, Touchscreen kiosks

I think it would be interesting to split out the Paid Search from paid Display Advertising. Google has a very high trust factor so I would hypothesise that people are still happy to click on Google Ads but context sensitive ads elsewhere I would suggest are much more vulnerable to security concerns.

over 2 years ago

Nathan Levi

Nathan Levi, CMO at

I would also want to split out 'paid social' from other display spend. I'm sure 'paid social' spending has increased year on year.

over 2 years ago

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