Facing weaker sales, retailers are scaling back ads and other marketing efforts over the holidays, according to a new survey by BDO Seidman.

About a third of 100 chief marketing officers at retailers nationwide said they're reducing ad spending, while nearly half said spending will remain flat, the Chicago-based professional services firm reported this week. Only a quarter were planning to boost ad spending.

Most are focusing on newspaper and magazine ads, followed by radio, television and the Internet, the survey found.

Advertising and marketing are among the first areas where retailers cut back during an economic downturn, according to Catherine Fox-Simpson, a retail and consumer products expert at BDO Seidman.

"This holiday season, we can expect that advertising buys will be very targeted, and in some cases more conservative," Fox-Simpson said.

During tougher economic times, retail ads tend to be less flashy, more sentimental and heavily focused on value-added items, she said.