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IPA’s Bellwether survey paints rosy picture for UK adland – but there’s a cold wind blowing from China

Who’d be an economist?

The UK’s IPA agency body has releases its latest Bellwether survey of marketing budgets this morning (for Q3 2014), showing they have been revised up in the UK for the eighth successive quarter, reaching the third highest level in the survey’s history. The increase is down a bit on the previous quarter (12.2 per cent against 15.2 per cent).

All this just as world stock markets have been taking an almighty tumble through fears of a dramatic slowdown in China (add property bubble/banking fears for extra spice), a less dramatic slowdown in the US, Eurozone stagnation, Ebola, the oil price (the fall is good for some, less good for others) and, for all we know, because there’s an ‘r’ in the month. Shares rebounded a bit in London this morning (Thursday) as some brave buyers re-entered the market.

Looking at the Bellwether numbers, the message is fairly consistent. UK adland is over the worst of the recession (Bellwether forecasts that ad expenditure this year will be seven per cent up) but things will slow down next year (the adspend increase in 2015 is forecast at 3.8 per cent).

chris-williamson-100Bellwether author, Chris Williamson of Markit (left), says: “Companies remain bullish about the business outlook, ratcheting up their marketing spend once again and adding to prospects of the economy continuing to grow strongly as we head towards the end of the year.

“The third quarter upward revision to marketing budgets was the third largest recorded since the survey began in 2000, exceeded only by the upward revisions already seen in the first two quarters of the year. This represents a remarkably positive picture of companies gaining confidence about the economic outlook as the year has proceeded, ploughing more money into budgets that had already been set higher at the start of the year. At this rate, 2014 is panning out to be the best year for growth of marketing spend in the survey’s 15-year history.”

But this rosy view could change dramatically if China, which has been driving the world economy more or less single-handedly for the past few years, takes a powder.

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