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Following the Digital Marketing Money Trail in Search of Truth

By Jake Sorofman | January 16, 2014 | 2 Comments

There are three types of truths in business (and perhaps, more broadly, in life):

  1. The truth according to what is said;
  2. The truth according what is observed; and,
  3. The truth according to how resources are allocated.

Of course, this third truth—the proverbial money trail—often yields the keenest insights.

It turns out that we’re all pretty much wired to vote with our wallets, as individuals and as organizations. That’s why Gartner for Marketing Leaders makes an annual tradition of its survey on digital marketing spending trends. Its goal is to reveal the truth as demonstrated in dollars.

This year’s Digital Marketing Spending Survey yields some interesting insights:

  • Marketing budgets on the rise—perhaps it’s no surprise that marketers are yielding a larger slice of discretionary budgets as brand engagement and customer acquisition and retention gain the strategic attention they duly deserve. This year’s survey shows marketing spend at 10.7% of revenue, up 8% over last year.
  • Budgets march toward digital parity—while traditional marketing spend still outstrips digital, this year’s survey revealed that the gap is closing rapidly. This year, 3.1% of revenue was earmarked for digital, up an impressive 20% from last year.
  • Customer experience comes forward—the belief that customer is king has graduated from platitude to practice as 77% of respondents report a chief customer officer in name or role among its top executives. Nearly half report into marketing.
  • Marketing technologists redouble—last year, the rise of the chief marketing technologist equivalent was top news. This year, it’s clear that this is no passing fad. The CMT is now found, in role or title, in 81% of organizations—up from 70% last year. It’s a clear indication that technical chops are crucial to digital marketing magic.
  • Content and search marketing spend falls off—this year’s survey pointed to the strategic demotion of content and search marketing, which fell from second and third spending priority last year (behind only online advertising), to sixth and seventh place, respectively. Why? These disciplines are increasingly intertwined as search algorithm changes point to truer measures of audience engagement. Call it the sophomore slump for what are likely to be two solid matriculators on the longer horizon. The rebound will likely depend on a more deliberate focus on proving ROI.

Those are just a few of the findings from this year’s survey. The complete research is available here (subscription required) for Gartner for Marketing Leaders clients.

Comments are closed


  • Hi Jake,
    Really Interesting insights, no doubt most of the companies focusing more on Digital Marketing instead of traditional marketing, in fact as I know few of the organization rapidly increase their digital marketing budget. Now the main concern is brand engagement and customer acquisition for all organization.


  • Ken says:

    Truth in marketing! Money makes the world go round, that is the truth! I like your insight and enjoyed reading your blog, appreciate it, Jake!