Experts Analysis, Insights and Perspectives on the IPA Bellwether Q1 Results

As the advertising industry eagerly awaits insights into market trends and economic indicators, the release of the IPA Bellwether Q1 results sparks interest among experts. With advertising spend often considered a barometer of economic health, we spoke to professionals who delve into the data – seeking to decipher the implications for businesses and consumers alike.

In this piece we delve into expert insights surrounding the latest results, uncovering invaluable perspectives that shed light on the current state of the industry.

Nataly Kelly, CMO of Zappi said “While the latest IPA Bellwether Report reveals a welcome uptick in budgets for Q1, there’s still a focus on trimming budgets, with a net balance of -4.4% predicting cuts to market research. While it’s irrefutable that brands want to stay close to their customers, the focus on lean operating costs is forcing CMOs and brand insights teams to do more with their data – beyond just project-based testing.

Companies are adapting by shifting away from expensive traditional methods to more streamlined, cost-effective ways of gathering insights, including AI-powered tools. This shift allows them to integrate insights from research right from the start and keep the consumer at the table when making business decisions.

These tools not only save money but also improve the speed and relevance of the data collected, ensuring market research remains a dynamic, strategic asset for brands aiming to make informed decisions and achieve long-term success. This focus on efficiency and agility will help market research remain an integral part of any marketing campaign, even in the face of budget constraints.”

Richard Exon, Founder at London independent creative agency Joint commented “Budget strings are tightening again around the all-important main media advertising, with out of home spend contracting further. It’s shocking that the ad industry is not taking full advantage of one of the most proven and most powerful players in the game. There is still huge value in out of home to influence and inspire, and it remains a key ingredient for brand growth. And in fact out of home is getting better every quarter with more sites moving to full video backed with AI powered targeting capability.

Additionally, the impact of the upcoming elections on consumer and business confidence will continue to be felt as the year goes on. None of the political parties are making their mark yet as regards comms and messaging. But the race will heat up as we move through the imminent Mayoral Elections and the General Election starting pistol is fired.All brands will need to take their view on how to communicate in a six month window where politics dominates the news cycle.”

Justine O’Neill, Director at Analytic Partners provides the view that “The latest Bellwether Report paints a cautiously optimistic picture for UK marketing budgets. It also highlights an interesting shift in which companies are focusing more on short-term sales promotions while cutting back on longer-term brand advertising.

While the overall growth in marketing spend is encouraging, this trend towards promotions over main media advertising could be a red flag. Our data shows that overusing promotions can cause consumers to buy primarily based on price rather than brand loyalty, which can erode profit margins in the long term and make it harder for brands to maintain pricing power.

Avoiding a short-term mindset is key. While promotions have an important role to play, businesses need to ensure they don’t come at the expense of building long-term brand equity.

With the UK appearing to be on its way out of a recession, brands should instead take this opportunity to invest in main media advertising and reconnect with their audience. By taking a balanced approach – investing in both brand-building and targeted promotions – brands can drive growth that is both impactful and sustainable.”