IPA Bellwether: main media advertising leads recovery as economy gets into gear

The vaccine rollout and promises of lockdown lifting encouraged marketers to continue easing up on their cost-cutting in the first quarter of the year. Respondents to the IPA’s Bellwether survey are reducing budgets by just 11.5 per cent this quarter, down from -24 per cent in the final quarter of 2020, according to the latest report.

Agencies will be pleased to learn that main media advertising (which includes digital as well as traditional above the line media) is looking to be in a relatively healthy shape, down by a mere 8.2 per cent, while PR is down 8 per cent.

The big loser continues to be events, down 43.2 per cent. Pre-pandemic, this was always one of the faster growing sectors, but perhaps experience of the cheaper virtual options for industry get togethers has changed this category for the long term. It’s hard to imagine Cannes Lions, for example, ever being quite the same again.

Main media is also expected to lead the way to a fuller recovery in 2022, according to the report.

Paul Bainsfair, IPA director general, said: “The vital signs from this quarter’s Bellwether Report are looking ‘V’ encouraging for a bounce back in UK marketing investment. As the nation comes out of lockdown consumers will be actively seeking out new products, experiences and entertainment, for which it will be more important than ever for companies to build and rebuild their brand awareness.”

If Oxford Street this week is anything to go by, Bainsfair’s familiar optimism could be well placed this time. Also he’s in tune with the Bank of England, which is predicting that Britain’s economy will return to its pre-pandemic size by December.

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