If you ask marketers and agency executives what the second quarter will look like, you’ll hear that it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Marketers are spending, and there are signals that spending could pick up in the second half of the year with more new business pitches happening now, according to agency execs. But there’s still a “cautious optimism,” as one agency exec put it when asked to sum up marketers’ current mood. At the same time, spending is down compared to the second quarter of last year — agency execs say that it’s down roughly 10%, a smaller percentage than many had expected earlier in the year — and marketers are holding onto dollars longer and seeking more flexibility rather than longer-term commitments.

Marketers’ current focus is on short-term planning, spending closer to campaign launches rather than inking long term deals, explained Stacey Stewart, U.S. Chief Marketplace Officer at UM, who added that “flexibility continues to be top of mind.”

“Everyone’s primary concern is not in the spending itself but in the unknown,” said Stewart. “Everyone wants to hold onto their dollars until they’re confident that they’re not going to need to return those dollars to someone’s bottomline.”

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