Econsultancy's Media Budgets Index, in association with Datalicious, compares media budget allocation with perceived media consumption.

I've picked out some highlights from the worldwide survey of 678 relevant senior staff, including overspend and underspend by channel.

Planned spend in 2016 - mobile, web and paid social on top 

Paid social is definitely on the agenda in 2016, with nearly half of respondents set to increase spend.

This is unsurprising, given these ad products use native units, trusted inventory and can target known users across devices.

The reach of social networks and brands' long-standing publication of content here have made them attractive paid options both in terms of ease of adoption and effectiveness.

Looking at this trend by country, UK respondents plan to increase spend on paid social more than any other nation (66%).

At the other end of the scale, paid social has the least support in APAC (41% plan to increase spend).

Social media is no doubt blurring the boundaries between paid, owned and earned media. Platforms are still changing rapidly and brands are continually adjusting strategies.

media budgets index

TV, display and even SEO see overspend

The table below shows channels that see underspend and overspend when taking into account customer dwell time.

The figures compared are the percentage of respondents that ranked a particular channel in their top three for customer dwell time, versus the percentage of respondents who ranked the same channel in their top three budget priorities.

  • Websites see underspend, prioritised by 56% of respondents despite 66% placing it in the top three channels for time spend.
  • Surprisingly, printed media (25% vs. 31%) sees underspend, as does mobile (27% vs. 21%).
  • Overspending is evident in TV (25% vs. 33%), display (14% vs. 20%) and very slighlty in SEO (13% vs 14%).

Of course, time spent by users isn't the only variable that accounts for the effectiveness of a channel.

However, 31% said time spent was the key variable that influences budget allocation and a further 36% said time spent is 'one of the variables' that influenced their media budget.

Additionally, planned spending increases for many in 2016 for websites and mobile in particular, may tackle some of the perceived imbalance. However, the report in general does paint a picture of budgeting being out of kilter with engagement metrics.

The majority of those allocating digital media spend are basing their decisions on incremental change from the previous budget depending on performance.

While this is certainly a way of improving performance, it does build on assumptions that may be questioned by more solid insights such as more accurate attribution measurement.

overspend and underspend

Display is bottom of the pile when it comes to digital effectiveness 

The chart below shows perceived effectiveness of media spend by channel. There aren't too many surprises, though it's interesting to see TV and POS out in front.

Display advertising certainly seems to be the least effective digital channel. Though more termed it 'very effective' than did paid social, the total that viewed it as 'very effective' or 'quite effective' was 60% compared to 63% for paid social.

Again, these results are caveated with the inability of many companies to attribute marketing success.

When asked whether their organisation used attribution to measure marketing effectiveness, 34% of respondents said no and 22% said they didn't know or it wasn't relevant.

effectiveness of channels

For many more findings, combined with desk research and insight from industry figures, subscribers can access the report below.

The Media Budgets Index, in association with Datalicious, comparing media budget allocation with media consumption.

Ben Davis

Published 7 June, 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 (1)


Matthew Kong, Digital Content & Outreach Executive at Birmingham

I can't speak for other mediums but I feel good SEO cannot be taken lightly and, when done right, lays a strong foundation that helps your business generate organic leads and sales.

over 1 year ago

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