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January 30, 2008

Live marketing spend matches digital, says Bellwether

More than £3 billion is spent on live events by UK marketers annually, according to the latest highly regarded Bellwether survey on marketing spend, placing the discipline at the same level as digital media.

Following pressure from the Events Industry Alliance (EIA) and other organisations, this is the first time that the report has attempted to measure the value of live marketing specifically, which has previously been included under the ‘All other marketing’ category.

This new era of transparency heralded by Bellwether’s fourth quarter (Q4) of 2007 results places live marketing within 0.1% of the investment put into the much vaunted digital sector, with marketers dedicating just under 10% of their total £35 billion annual marketing spend to the events sector.

“These figures confirm our long-held understanding that events are playing a significant and growing part in the integrated campaigns of modern marketers,” said EIA group chief executive Trevor Foley. “Live event marketing has been surfing the digital wave as the more savvy marketers exploit the obvious synergies of the two media in their quest for meaningful engagement with customers. I’m not at all surprised that spending on events is matching that of its closest marketing ally digital media, and is giving that old staple sales promotion, a run for its money. I look forward to monitoring spending on events through the Bellwether report for years to come, and would like to thank IPA for engaging with EIA and reaching the decision to extrapolate this powerful live medium.”
Commenting on the more detailed Bellwether Report, its author, Chris Williamson of NTC Economics, said: "The 'All other marketing' spend category of the Bellwether survey accounts for a large proportion (just under one-third) of all marketing spend, so it is important to estimate its composition. For the first time in Q4, we therefore asked survey panel members to report on their main components of this category. This revealed that, very approximately, events (including exhibitions, conferences, event sponsorship and corporate hospitality), PR and market research each accounted for just under 10% of total marketing spend in 2007.”

However, he ended on a cautious note, saying: “It should be noted that Bellwether methodology is designed to measure change over time from a representative panel of around 250 marketing professionals, it is not designed to measure absolute sizes and should only be taken as a rough guideline."
Despite Williamson’s caveat, the chairman of the EIA and managing director of EC&O Venues, Nigel Nathan, welcomed the new figures, saying: “This is another important – and gratifying – step towards establishing the use of live events as a core marketing discipline with real power to challenge for a serious share of the marketing pound. The figures show that a significant proportion of spend is already being channelled into this sector, implying a growing recognition of the value inherent in live event marketing, and it is now our industry’s job (with and through the EIA) to ensure that this proportion continues to grow. The clear synergies between digital and live events bind the two disciplines, placing them at the cutting edge of modern marketing and creating a route to market that brands can no longer afford to ignore.”
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