UK advertising isn’t dead yet – new AA/WARC figures show record-breaking 2017

UK ad expenditure grew 3.7 per cent to 10.8bn during the first half of 2017 according to new Advertising Association/WARC figures, the highest six-monthly total since records began in 1982. AA and WARC are upgrading their 2017 annual forecast to 3.1 per cent growth and a total of £22bn.

Which makes predictions of post-Brexit vote doom and gloom look a bit sick, not to mention some of the moans from the holding companies, although the UK makes up only a small portion of their business.

Digital (including digital out-of-home) is now the biggest sector with 54 per cent of the entire market, driving growth, up 13 per cent year-on-year. Mobile accounted for much of this. But cinema (up 14.4 per cent) and radio (up 11 per cent) were other standouts. TV fell 2.5 per cent, a better performance than some estimates. Print advertising fell again – as it does – but print owners’ video on demand offers (included in digital here) are making headway. Overall growth in the second quarter was four per cent.

AA CEO Stephen Woodford says: “Spend on advertising is showing strong resilience, at a time of real uncertainty for UK business. We know advertising has a positive effect on the economy, with every pound spent generating six pounds of GDP, so it is good to see steady, sustained growth. The upgrade of our 2017 forecast by a further one per cent, the equivalent of an additional investment of £190M, should be seen as a cautious indicator for continued growth in the UK economy.”

WARC senior data analyst James McDonald says: “The latest data highlight the importance of mobile to advertisers in the UK – spend on mobile ads accounted for the entirety of internet growth during the second quarter of 2017 and 97% over the first six months of the year. As mobile usage and credit-fueled consumer spending continue to rise, investment in mobile advertising will track ahead of other platforms this year.”

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.