Is the UK really set for a 2016 ad boom?

If anyone is media land was looking for an excuse to raise a glass this Christmas (they probably don’t need one) it seems that UK media spend is going through the roof next year, following more than respectable 2015 growth of seven per cent.

ZenithOptimedia is forecasting 9.7 per cent growth in 2016, ahead of WPP’s GroupM prediction of seven per cent. Zenith head of forecasting Jonathan Barnard says: “It is pretty stellar – the fastest growth rate of any mature market.

“I attribute it to the healthy UK economy, marketers’ embrace of digital communication (advertisers spend more of their budgets on internet advertising in the UK than anywhere else in the world) and strong demand for TV, which remains cheap on historical and international terms.”

It’s also reported that over £300m will be spent by UK advertisers on ITV, Channel 4 and Sky at Christmas this year, another record.
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What seems to be happening is that the growth of digital is not, as widely predicted at media boffin HQ, a zero sum game. There may be a lot more of it but, for big brands anyway, it works best when digital campaigns get a big send-off on mainstream TV. The huge YouTube numbers for John Lewis’ ‘Man on the Moon’ and Sainsbury’s ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ would not have been achieved without expensive TV launches. All the national media hype helped too of course, but this wouldn’t have happened without mainstream TV.

So is ten per cent growth, as Zenith predicts, really possible next year? There are a lot of ‘ifs and buts’ to consider, not least PM David Cameron’s foolish decision to try to appease his Eurosceptic right wingers (who are unappeasable anyway) by calling a referendum which may lead to a British exit from the EU. CFOs across the land will be tightening the purse strings if a ‘Brexit’ seems at all likely.

ITV’s Adam Crozier and WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell will be just two top execs at the marketing sharp end crossing their fingers and legs against that particular eventuality.

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