According to the Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report published this month, UK advertising spend in Q1 2018 has exceeded expectations, rising 5.9% year-on-year to reach £5.7bn – the 19th consecutive quarter of market growth.
These are the strongest figures for a first quarter in three years, coming in 1.3 percentage points (pp) ahead of forecast. Interestingly, though internet spend continued to thrive (+10.8%), it wasn’t entirely responsible for this boost in spend. Traditional channels also held their own this quarter, with print display ad revenue for national news brands rising for the first time in seven years and radio (+12.5%) recording its strongest growth since 2014. Spend on out-of-home (+5.3%) and TV (+5.0%) was also high, according to the report.
Such positive figures have resulted in ad spend growth forecasts for the rest of the year and next being upgraded, by 0.6pp to 4.8% and 0.7pp to 4.5% respectively. If proved accurate, this would conclude a decade of continuous growth, and result in investment of over £24bn in 2019.
Even the looming outcome of Brexit – which could dramatically change this trajectory – could not deter the spirits of the Advertising Association’s chief executive, Stephen Woodford, who said of the figures:
“Our latest advertising expenditure figures reflect the resilience of the wider UK economy, where consumer confidence is improved and the jobs market remains very strong. UK advertising continues to show steady growth with more businesses investing more spend in advertising. This investment boosts company profits and overall GDP, creates more jobs and helps our media sector to continue to invest in the creative content and technology that the public values.
“If the government can secure a good outcome from the Brexit negotiations and introduce a business-friendly immigration policy, we should continue to see sustained UK market growth and continued export success for advertising.”
These results are a great sign for the future of the UK ad industry, which has battled with instability over the past 12 months.