Gary Howells, of specialist business-to-business advertising agency CHJS, which conducted the survey of 700 marketing professionals, said the findings showed that companies were not "putting their money where their mouth is". He added that marketing managers often felt they were "required to work miracles on the budget they were given".
However, the report also found that businesses perceived they were getting better value for money from marketing activities such as telemarketing and seminars, in which they were in direct contact with customers, than from more distant media, such as television and press campaigns. "This was surprising given the efforts to make advertisements more accountable," Mr Howells said.
The top five marketing channels in terms of return on investment were held to be: public relations, database marketing, direct mail, distributor/dealer activity and seminars. This list was close - but not identical - to the top five budget priorities: public relations, direct mail, exhibitions, trade press advertising and database marketing.
Only exhibitions have a poorer perceived return than the priority given them. On the other hand, radio advertising, regional press advertising and telemarketing all have a perceived return on investment dramatically ahead of their share of the budget.
CHJS intends to monitor the effects of developments, such as the growth of the Internet, to update the findings at regular intervals. But Mr Howells believes that, even with these moves, the market may not be changing as much as observers think.
"People talk about the haemorrhaging of money towards direct mail. But it's not that huge," he said. "You can't build a brand with direct mail. You've got to use high-profile channels like television and posters."