A recent forecast from private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson predicts growth in corporate communications spending, possibly at the expense of ad dollars. The forecast cites the rapid expansion in digital media and the Internet as one factor for the additional spending, noting that communications expenses may outpace general business growth. 

The forecast is supported by a comprehensive look at media usage and spending over the last 35 years, with a view to the future. It notes the trend of consumers moving away from ad-supported media such as broadcast television and towards digital media. According to the report, in 1975 ad-supported media including television, newspapers and magazines accounted for 89.6 percent of time spent with consumer media. That figure dropped to 50.4 percent in 2009. 

VSS predicts that business information spending will grow at an annual 8.2 percent rate, mainly due to the growth of applications for organizing and accessing data. During the same period, the growth forecasted for traditional advertising revenues is expected to be somewhat stagnant, growing at only 2.2 percent over the same period. 

The report forecasts solid gains in public relations and word-of-mouth marketing, but believes that this growth will not overcome the overall sluggish growth in traditional marketing segments. It notes that marketing services revenue stream, which includes direct marketing, branded entertainment and outsourced custom publishing, fell 9.6 percent in 2009, its worst performance in 35 years. Advertising was the other revenue stream to decline last year, posting a 14.1 percent drop from the previous year.