The analysts at Blackfriars Communications are forecasting a fairly bleak year for US marketers — even online marketers. Blackfriars’ second annual sizing of the US marketing market found that 2006 marketing spending dropped to 4.7% of business revenues this year, from 8.9% last year.

"Marketing has struggled because of bad weather and higher fuel prices over the past twelve months," said Carl Howe of Blackfriars.

A key finding of the survey — of 317 senior business executives across the country — was that advertising spending fell to $218 billion this year, of which $38 billion was online advertising.

But even the news about online advertising was bad. Expected by Blackfriars to account for 10% of overall advertising spending at the beginning of the year, online advertising ebbed to only 7% of budgets.

"Companies are cutting back on all forms of marketing from last year," said Mr. Howe. "But as they cut their budgets, they fall back on more traditional media and strategies. That’s really too bad, because the measurability of online marketing allows executives to clearly demonstrate its value. That can be much harder to do with traditional media."

On somewhat of an up note, Mr. Howe added, "If marketing were an industry, the $615 billion spent on marketing this year would still make it the ninth largest industry in the United States."

More here.