Summary:

When a recession hits, it’s expected that branded ad campaign spending drops in favor the clear ROI boost provided by direct response. Well,…

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When a recession hits, it’s expected that branded ad campaign spending drops in favor the clear ROI boost provided by direct response. Well, at least in the case of digital marketing agency Razorfish, that didn’t happen. According to the Publicis Groupe-owned shop’s 2010 Outlook report, 60 percent of Razorfish clients who did altered the approach of their ads actually moved to a more brand-focused message. “Clients didn’t have any real giant pendulum swings, they pretty much stayed the course and kept the strategies that they had used prior to the recession,” said Jeremy Lockhorn, vp of emerging media, in an interview with paidContent. “We would have expected the opposite to have occurred.”

The company also pointed to a slight benefit from the ad recovery that began tentatively in the second half of ’09. Razorfish’s average client upped their media spend by 4 percent last year, versus the 13 percent cut in budgets in 2008.

For the most part, Razorfish’s Outlook found a great deal of stability, despite the tremendous upheaval in the general marketplace. In terms of other trends Razorfish spotted last year, investment in portals declined for the second year in a row, while there was some growth in ad networks. But ad networks would have grown more had it not been for ad exchanges, which saw real gains for first time since appearing on the online ad scene five years ago. Both ad nets and exchanges are also taking money away from portals, Lockhorn noted.

“The definition of a portal is changing,” he said. “It’s going through an evolution of its own. We’ve counted the big four — AOL (NYSE: AOL), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), MSN as well as Google (NSDQ: GOOG) — as portals for long time. We may have to include Facebook in that group, since it’s getting so broad in the kind of content that appears in members’ news feeds. You have to ask, is that social net becoming a portal? Especially as the portals themselves adopt more community features. We’ll be considering that for next year’s report.”

Other findings from the Razorfish Outlook included:

– Ad verification systems

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