Marketing leaders concerned about budgets, campaign efficiency and AI

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More than half (51%) of marketing decision-makers across key European markets agree that the future of marketing seems uncertain, given the current economic environment, which has impacted budgets.

This viewpoint comes amid a range of uncertainties impacting their working lives, with 84% reporting that the current economic situation has impacted their marketing strategy.

The findings were revealed in ‘Marketers’ guide to sustainable success’, a report by performance marketing collective Linehub, aimed at understanding European businesses’ marketing strategies and the impact that the current economic environment has had and will have over the next 12 months.

Budgets, campaigns and AI impact

A third of marketing decision-makers reported that they have had to make budget cuts to their marketing strategy over the last 12 months.


Specifically in the UK, nearly half (48%) of respondents stated that they have had to make cuts – 16% higher than the average European marketing decision maker.

Over the next 12 months, only around 2 in 5 businesses expect budgets to increase – yet this is only the case for 1 in 5 businesses in the UK.

AI also presents a further sense of uncertainty for marketing leaders. Two-fifths of marketing decision-makers believe that their role may not exist in the future due to advances in AI.

When asked about key ways that they hope to remain relevant, almost three quarters  stated that using real time market insights are their best bet.

The same number agree that brand building needs to be prioritised by senior leadership; while the marketing industry needs to prioritise effectiveness (72%); and diversify marketing efforts to spread the risk and enhance the brand (69%).

They also see that they need to start investing in alternative marketing solutions like affiliate marketing and checkout marketing.

Well-planned strategies impacted by the economy

Many organisations have had to make key structural changes as a result of the economic environment: to change or update the product offering (34%); to make budget cuts (32%); to restructure teams internally (29%); and to change marketing channels (29%).

This challenging economic environment for many companies across Europe means that most marketing decision makers are focusing their efforts on acquiring new customers in existing markets (63%).

This is the priority for over double the number of marketing decision makers than the next most important imperatives – to expand to new markets (31%), and to develop brand personality (30%).

Focusing on the UK, the top three marketing goals are to acquire new customers in existing markets (56%); develop brand personality (40%); and stimulate awareness (36%).

Above the line advertising to be usurped by social

Over the last 12 months, marketing budgets have been dominated by above the line advertising. But it looks like that will change over the next 12 months, as paid social media marketing or advertising are expected to take up the largest proportion of marketing budgets.

Indeed, above the line advertising will see a budgetary decrease of 1.1%, while paid social media marketing/advertising will see a 2.4% increase.

Paid online advertising is expected to drop dramatically in the next 12 months, from 9.1% to 6.7%, perhaps due to the challenges faced by third party cookies and the over-investment in online channels during COVID which resulted in an overall drop in ROI of these channels.

Two in five (40%) believe that the end of third party cookies spells the end of online advertising.

Specifically in the UK, the top priorities for marketing budgets over the next 12 months are email marketing (10.1%), paid online advertising (i.e. display) (8.3%), and Search engine advertising (paid) (8.0%).

Agencies called on to be more strategic

When asked about what kind of role their marketing agency would take in the future, almost half (46%) said they wanted their agency to play a strategic role in their marketing strategy.

This was followed by improved customer targeting (36%), reduced risk and increased ROI (36%). Focusing on the UK, 40% stated that they aren’t planning on outsourcing any of their marketing in the next 12 months.

Martijn Zoetebier, Group Director Business Development, Linehub, said: “As we face a future of continued uncertainty on every marketing front, I believe the best way to unlock true potential and achieve sustainable success is to build a solid marketing ecosystem and tech stack and not to put all of the eggs in one basket.

“By investing in a wide range of solutions, marketers can spread their risk while enhancing their brand.

“This will help brands to secure and maintain a voice at the strategy table, instead of just playing a supportive role. That’s why we carried out this research – to ensure marketers have the most up to date and relevant insights at their fingertips to help them to progress faster.”