Digital Marketing Is The Clear Winner

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That’s not a statement, but rather fact if you believe the just-released, 2009 Media Survey Results & Analysis.

According to the eMarketer news item, Media Dollars Shift to Digital in Downturn (published September 16th, 2009): "While a majority of respondents said they would hold budgets for each medium except print steady in 2009 compared with 2008, digital was still the clear winner. Budgets were more likely to be cut than increased for traditional media such as TV, radio and direct mail, but more respondents said they would up their investments in e-mail marketing, search and interactive than said spending would be reduced."

It’s interesting to read that they’re not talking about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any of the more "Social Media" types of channels. By the looks of this news item, Marketers are going to be hunkering down deep into web analytics and pushing their CRM systems to go digital.

How telling of a quote is this?…

"E-mail marketing was the channel most likely to see an increase in spending in 2009, and print was the biggest loser. The across-the-board shift from traditional to digital media is no surprise–it represents a general reallocation of marketing budgets to newer media channels."

What this really means is that 2009 and 2010 are going to very interesting years for both brands and agencies. Those who have digital competencies are going to have to up their game when it comes to real, tangible and measurable programs (time to get even more serious about brand strategy and ROI), while the more traditional agencies are going to have to realign their structure if they want to continue to post record profits. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there are going to be both challenges and opportunities.

My personal prediction?

We’re going to start seeing more and more pure-play Digital Marketing agencies become lead as agency of record, and we’re going to a whole lot of action on the acquisition front from traditional agencies and the major networks. Regardless of that, as the Digital Marketing component moves the needle and takes on more of the overall advertising budgets, the big question still remains: who is going to do all of this work? There simply is not enough Digital Marketers who have the skill, talent and experience to deliver all of these programs. As an industry, we’re going to have to band together, head out the colleges and universities and get the word out that being a Digital Marketer is not only a great career move, but a profitable and a smart one. On top of that, we’re going to have to help our current teams to get much smarter and more acquainted with tools like Google Analytics and email marketing systems (even though that sounds so very 2006).

Who is with me?


  1. I’m with you, Mitch. It’s a great time to be a marketer, especially one with digital chops. When times are good, training is important. When times are not so good, training is critical. Sadly, that’s one of the first places individuals and organizations cut back. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking digital is here to stay. My advice to marketing veterans and newbies and the companies they work for – study hard and stay current.

  2. Mitch, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I am betting you are right by starting my own digital marketing agency. There is a huge void in the market to service small to medium size businesses. Six Pixels has done a fantastic service to the community by codifying digital thought leadership. I’m with you Mitch, all the way!

  3. Mitch,
    I think vast majority are going to go ‘all in’ with you on this one. The question for those on the outside will be “what sort of training/education/skills do I need to get a foot in the door?” I find schools have been very slow in embracing/accepting the new forms of marketing and are not preparing students properly, if at all for the new media environment that awaits them. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe this is a separate discussion altogether.
    I believe that people looking to break in to this space are in need of some sort of ‘road map’ to help get them there, to the digital marketing agencies’ satisfaction.
    Am I way off base in saying this?

  4. Thanks for the post Mitch. We believe the data doesn’t lie either. As a financial advisory firm a lot of our advertising is restricted by rules from the SEC. However, going completely digital with our efforts is certainly inevitable. Too bad for print, just like the care manufacturers, they should have seen it coming.
    Great job on the book too. I’m half way through and already learned a great deal.

  5. I couldn’t agree more – after reading ‘The Truth About Email Marketing’ and ‘Changing the Channel’ our focus clearly shifted more and more to email marketing initiatives and our clients love us for it.
    It looks as if Six Pixels of Separation is next on my list – Great job – Fantastic post.

  6. Definitely agreed here – it’s great to see that Analytics and Conversion Optimization get the due that they deserve. Driving traffic is only a part of the equation.
    Compare this study with the one published by the Center of Media research ( – It has marketers shift a lot of their focus to Social Media.
    Let’s hope they keep in mind that Social Media isn’t a cure-all ;->

  7. I’m with you Mitch.
    @JeffStern, looks like you’ll have some healthy competition! I too am taking a gamble; I’ve just resigned from my corporate job to start my own freelance digital marketing and design agency (finally). I agree there’s a massive gap in the SMB sector for proper, measurable and effective digital marketing techniques – it’s simply not good enough to have a website these days and these guys need help achieving their potential. Traditional marketing techniques aren’t necessarily dying, but digital is indeed blazing the trail.
    Can’t wait. Big things ahead.

  8. It only makes sense that traditional media would be cut, and it’s not just the economy. DVRs make TV advertising less effective, newspapers are going out of business or severely cutting back on their content to stay afloat as more people get their news online. The shift of marketing dollars is migrating to where people go to communicate and to get their content.

  9. I agree with you completely Mitch! When comparing print dollars vs. digital dollars – the reach is exponential.

  10. Hi Mitch,
    You took the words right out of my mouth. I’ve been lucky enough to have a marketing education background, but have also gained digital marketing on-the-job skills after working for an IT strartup. Now I work for a larger organization where job roles are a lot more segmented. I find that when hiring an ad agency, most of them do not have the required digital marketing capacity and they themselves have to contract that portion out, especially things like AdWords. It’s just really sad so see many ad agencies still out of touch with what capabilities they should have. Sometimes contradting requirements and/or time constraints do not permit going with a separate agency for the digital component.

  11. You know, every quarter, those emarketer reports have new predictions on where spending is going to be placed over the next year — i.e. whether its email, search, whatever… But they consistently foretell a more and more digital trend.

  12. I am so happy to have read this article. I have a digital fashion & beauty magazine called UNVOGUE (visit We have spent the first year and a half building the name and getting press-we’ve been featured in The New York Times. We have yet to go after advertisers, as we were unsure if they will be willing to advertise in a digital magazine. If there are any agencies out there who may be willing to assist us, please contact me [email protected].
    Best regards,

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