It’s always interesting to contemplate how global events affect us, even in our own back yards — and turbulent times have definitely impacted online marketing budgets.
An analysis of several hundred clients with online marketing initiatives spanning over 100 regions around the world clearly shows that shifts in budget allocation reflect the stories we see on our TV screens each evening. The big winner here? Asia.
The data below look at the shift in budget allocations among regions between Q1 and Q2 in 2013. These figures are for US and UK businesses which are investing in the global SEO or SEM initiatives. Roughly one hundred regions had significant spend in the quarters and were included in the analysis. A notable exclusion was Nigeria, which has seen a drop from a low level in the UK thanks to actions by the UK government.
To clarify, the figures above represent shifts in the share of budget allocated to particular regions — not the budget volume itself. Budget share allocations give a much clearer picture of trends than volume growth when working internationally because the currencies, hedging and the growth rate of the online industry itself can distort the picture, making everywhere look like they’re growing at least some! Budget allocation figures give a clearer idea of the respective importance of different markets.
Additional Budgeting Data & Considerations
Economic conditions in parts of Latin America — Brazil, for instance — have seen a fairly significant redirection of budget toward the East. Brazil is continuing to see huge interest and budget commitment, but as online marketing budgets increase, more caution toward the LATAM area is becoming apparent.
Mexico, which is often the kick-off point for LATAM activities because it has a large population and speaks Spanish, saw a significant loss of activity in Q2, though data going back through 2012 shows it had been claiming significant slices of budget throughout the year, and this was more of a correction in the spring of 2013.
Recent economic data for Western Europe suggest the older economies of the West are beginning to move very slowly forward once again. However, these data only emerged in early Q3, and in Q2 we still see a continuing caution to increase the budget share of these economies. Rather, new money that would previously have headed toward Germany is going East. As a side point, it is worth nothing that Greece, Spain and Portugal, which had previously dropped significantly, have seen some signs of recovery — especially Portugal.
The ongoing issues in the Middle East — especially in the world’s largest Arabic-speaking nation, Egypt, but also in Syria, Libya, and even Turkey — have caused an ebbing of investment in that region, too. However, a look at more detailed figures makes it clear that Israel is seeing an influx of investment, probably since it currently represents the nearest thing to a safe haven within the region.
In addition to Asia generally, there is also some movement of funds toward the former CIS nations such as Georgia, Tajikistan, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan. But the biggest growth by far is in the Ukraine, followed by the Russian Federation. The pattern could be described as marketers working to penetrate markets where there is growth to be had, to compensate for the lackluster performance in the West.
In Troubled Times, Search Marketers Dig Deeper
It seems that in troubled economic and political times, marketers are relying on the flexibility and speed offered by digital marketing. Digital marketing enables them to expand their global reach and enter new markets as a means of compensating for the troubled markets where performance has dropped due to events. Search marketing in particular is benefiting from this trend as it offers as a ready means to test the waters in somewhere new at relatively low cost.
In terms of the mix of work behind the figures, Q1 was marked out by many firms undertaking additional research to flesh out potential opportunities for expansion, whilst Q2 was much more about actively targeting those regions with exposure.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.