Businesses Used To Want “Advertising”, Now They Want Results

Businesses today are looking for results from digital advertising

Borrell Associates recently released their Annual Benchmarking Online Media report detailing shifts in local media spend.  Overall Borrell predicts that spending in local markets will jump 21% this year to nearly $20 billion, but one of the key trends they outline as part of this growth is the increase in “non-advertising” spend: comprising services like paid search, SEO, social media marketing and reputation management.  As Gordon Borrell recently commented:

“This transformation that we’ve begun to see, is that it is getting harder and harder to determine what’s advertising and what’s services…..Most forecasts call for a gradual slowdown of traditional advertising expenditures and growth in ‘non-advertising’ marketing and promotions spending. This change is based on the idea that advertisers actually want results more than they want advertising.”

This shift is an important one, and it means that everyone in the media business in the Digital era needs to go way beyond simply selling “reach”.  Today they first need figure out what each business is trying to do (their goals), and then put together a combination of services and advertising that will best drive results for them. This is a topic I also touched on during a presentation I did at the Interactive Local Marketing East conference in March (you can read a recap of that ILM session discussing digital marketing “services” here).

The change that Borrell identifies  builds on data they published  in a 2011 report, which surveyed 2872 local businesses about their plans for marketing and advertising.  What the research found was that local businesses are increasingly viewing their websites as the core for driving those results.  The report commented:

It was very plain and broad in the old, pre-web days. Intermediated marketing communications — done through media — was advertising. The communications you did yourself was promotional. Nowadays, when SMBs are asked about online advertising, nine out of every ten talk about spending on their own websites.

The finding also applied to local businesses extended web presence on social media outposts, as the report found that one out of every three SMBs is planned to increase spending on social media in the next year.

This shift in viewing the web site– and the extended web presence– as a foundational piece of the modern digital marketing plan has been showing up in other data as well.   In 2011 MarketingSherpa surveyed 935 BtoB marketers about their most important marketing channels.  The study clearly showed the primary importance of the company website and spend associated with it.

MarketingSherpa Study Points to a businesses site as core to their marketing program


All of this is pointing to a new world that agencies and media companies need to quickly adapt to. When businesses look for partners today, it will be ones who can go beyond advertising reach to effectively drive results that get the job.


John’s digital experience dates back over two decades, to before the web was born. He is currently VP Marketing for Advance Digital, and is a regular writer and speaker on topics including Search, Social Media, Content Marketing, Local Media and the Digital Marketing Revolution.

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