Ad spend resilient to Brexit pressures, but TV investment flatlines

Ad spend grows despite economic uncertainty

Despite the pressures of Brexit, advertising spend in the UK rose 3.7% to reach £21.4bn in 2016. However, investment in TV has suffered and it's predicted that it will continue to fall in 2017.

According to the Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report, growth in UK ad spend held steady in Q3 after the June referendum, before reaching £5.8bn in Q4 2016, a rise of 3.9% year-on-year and the highest grossing quarter on record.

In real terms, after accounting for inflation, UK ad spend topped its pre-recession peak for the first time during both the final quarter and for 2016 as a whole.

Forecasts for the next two years indicate continued growth of 2.5% in 2017 and 3.3% in 2018.

TV ad spend dipped 2.1% in the final quarter of 2016 but this was counter-balanced by rises earlier in the year thanks to a 12.6% growth in video-on-demand revenue.

Overall, it saw a 0.2% growth for 2016, a dramatic fall compared to the 7.3% growth it saw in 2015. While its share is holding steady at 25% over the last decade, the AA's predicts that total TV spend will dip again this year, before losses are regained in 2018.

Similarly, National newsbrands' combined ad revenues fell 9% during Q4 2016. The 10.0% dip recorded during 2016 as a whole was, however, £25m softer than the loss recorded in 2015. The rate of decline is expected to ease further over the forecast period.

Meanwhile, magazine brands recorded losses in income from both print (-9.1%) and digital (-5.7%) ads in Q4, though full-year digital revenues rose 0.2% thanks to growth among publishers of consumer titles.

"The UK's ad industry is experiencing the most seismic shift since WARC began monitoring in 1982,” said James McDonald, senior data analyst at WARC.

“Last year exemplified this, as over 95% of the new money entering the market came from digital formats. The trend will continue as ad tech improves and consumers spend more time with their internet-connected devices."

Overall, internet ad spend rose 15.3% during Q4 2016, pushing the full-year total above £10bn for the first time. Mobile accounted for 99% of the new money entering the internet ad market last year, with spend reaching £3.9bn in 2016 as a whole.

Digital also accounted for 38% of the £1.1bn out of home advertising market in 2016 (which grew 2.0% year-on-year during the final three months of 2016) double the share digital recorded in 2012.

"Advertising has proved resilient to uncertainty and behind these numbers is a cutting edge, digital business in which Britain is a world-beater,” said Stephen Woodford, chief executive at the Advertising Association. “As we work towards Brexit, we're urging Government to support UK advertising and do more to unlock its potential to grow UK plc."

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.