Adspend Economy Media

Ad Association hails UK’s ‘remarkable’ ad spend bounce back


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 27, 2022 | 3 min read

The UK’s ad market has posted record-breaking spend for 2021 and has, against all the odds, emerged from the strongest ever year for the sector with growth storming ahead by 26.4% to hit £29.7bn. This year it will cross the £30bn threshold for the first time.

Piggy bank

UK advertising has seen a remarkable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic

The surprise findings are outlined by the quarterly Advertising Association (AA)/Warc expenditure report, which collates ad revenue drawn from across all media including real-world figures for the summer and an updated projection for the fourth quarter.

They show that growth outpaced expectations of a 24.8% rise as calculated last October, following a barnstorming summer in which ad spend clocked in at £7.3bn – another record. Spendthrift brands have prompted both the AA and Warc to go back to the drawing board and revise their projections for the tail end of 2021 and next year to reflect the mood of ebullience.

The report authors now expect ad spend growth to clock in at 23.2% for 2022, a full percentage point upgrade on previous predictions, as the UK ad market roars back to life, outstripping the global recovery by over 12%.

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “UK advertising has seen a remarkable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, racing ahead of key international markets with spend expected to cross the threshold of £30bn this year.”

James McDonald, director of data, intelligence and forecasting at Warc, added: “The latest verified data supports our previous estimation that 2021 was the strongest year for the UK’s advertising market since monitoring began. Encouragingly this momentum appears to have [been] sustained into the new year, with the impact of the Omicron variant on advertising trade appearing to be reasonably muted across the majority of sectors.”

All media sectors are contributing to the 2021 growth surge, with search leading the way up 31% and even perennial underdogs such as regional news brands managing to contribute 7.8% growth.

The surge comes despite AA research indicating that public trust in advertising remains low.

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