Digital agency Razorfish has unveiled a report with findings suggesting that clients were actually more likely to switch to brand-focused marketing, not direct response, during slow economic times.

The report also revealed that the economic recession is subsiding, showing client spend increasing by 4% in 2009, versus a 13% drop in 2008.

“For this year’s report, we examined the data differently to acknowledge the new realities the Great Recession presented our clients and us. We analysed how our clients adapted to the challenging environment, what media proved effective, what didn’t deliver as expected, and how this information can be used to direct successful strategy moving forward,” said Jeremy Lockhorn, vice president of emerging media at Razorfish.

Other findings included:

• Contrary to popular belief, not every brand shifted its advertising focus to direct response as a result of reduced consumer spending. In fact, 60% of clients who did switch the approach of their ads actually moved to a more brand-focused message,

• Clients continued to experiment with new media. Digital out-of-home in particular experienced significant growth, along with ad exchanges, data brokers and social media, and

• Social media, which has exploded in popularity over the past few years, still only garners 4% of average client media spend. However, much of the cost of social media comes in the form of labor, not ad space – an important distinction when analyzing and planning media budgets.

Lockhorn added that 45% of Razorfish clients’ media spend in 2009 was invested into vertical properties, search, ad networks and portals.

“Google still leads the search category. However, Razorfish expects the combination of Microsoft Bing and Yahoo! to challenge Googles dominance,” said Lockhorn.

The report also provided predictions for what media trends will dominate 2010, including:

• Ad verification systems – although still relatively new, the agency has seen a drastic uptake in interest from clients and expects these systems’ popularity to explode in the coming year,

• Local online advertising – as the iPad and other similar devices breathe new life into local newspapers, we expect to see an increase in both local display and local search digital advertising,

• In-game advertising – as gaming and social media continues to intertwine with location-based services, the opportunity for brands to provide relevant and meaningful interactions within a game is growing, and

• Digital out-of-home – with growing popularity across the board, retail clients especially are embracing this technology as a way to communicate and connect with consumers in stores.