Marketers increasingly get the “e.” Don’t they?

An eMarketer newsletter late last year was headlined “CPG Starts Thinking Outside the Box,” and projected that CPG (consumer package goods) companies “will spend $920 million on all forms of Internet advertising (2007), up 33% over 2006,” with that number going to $1.81 billion by 2011.

I remember many years ago when Proctor & Gamble’s then-CEO Ed Artzt admonished ad agencies (where I was working at the time) for not “stepping up” and fulfilling the promise of what was then termed “interactive marketing” (though, if you want a counterpoint, read “Interactive Marketing: The Future & Present” AMA & NTC Books, 1995. It’s an interesting read that profiles the beginning of much of the marketing we’re seeing happening or about to happen today.). The idea then was simple: there are lots of ways to connect with the customer (and remember, this was the early ’90s) and marketers continued to rely on network TV advertising.

Today we see what in some marketers’ eyes are too many — and too confusing — options. And one of the biggest issues then becomes “who do you trust” to help sort it out?

A 2007 Forrester Report (“Help Wanted: 21st Century Agency” by Peter Kim) advises that money moving from traditional media to “new” media will increase more this year than ever. And that at the same time, marketers have decreasing confidence that advertising agencies can help them figure out and manage these new options.

In fact, only 50% of the marketing execs Forrester interviewed thought that their agencies were “well-equipped to help me deal with changes in internet advertising” (versus 95% of agency execs who thought they were), 55% thought agencies could help them deal with changes in consumer behavior (versus 80% of agency execs), and only 34% thought that agencies could help them deal with changes in consumer-generated media (versus 75% of agency execs).

So who are the new experts? And if you’re a marketer, how do you know who to trust?

Especially this year, marketers must produce the same or better results with fewer resources. Smart ones will try to engage customers electronically, at many points and on many levels, and will either help their agencies get smart about it, find other resources, or do it themselves.