Shift to digital will push UK advertising to a record £20bn+ in 2015

New UK advertising forecasts are predicting growth of 5.5% in 2014 and 6.5% in 2015, taking UK adspend past £20bn for the first time in 2015.

The forecast, from the latest Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report, reflects upbeat reports on the UK economy from both the IMF and the recent IPA Bellwether.

UK adspend reached £17,877m in 2013, up 3.9% on the previous year with mobile advertising (+95%), broadcast video on demand (+21%) and digital national newsbrands (+19.5%) all experiencing strong growth.

Tim Lefroy, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association said:  "Another set of positive indicators to support the growth story – every pound spent on advertising returns six to GDP. The forecast explosion in mobile advertising and digital formats points to UK advertising at the centre of a global revolution in consumer information, service and choice.”

The Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure Report is the definitive measure of advertising activity in the UK. It is the only source that uses advertising expenditure gathered from across the entire media landscape, rather than relying solely on estimated or modelled data. With total market and individual media data available quarterly from 1982, it is the most reliable picture of the industry and is widely used by advertisers, agencies, media owners and analysts.

Total Market: Display picks up, Recruitment finally records growth, Other Classified slows

  • Display advertising enjoyed a turnaround in the second half of 2013, experiencing a 5% growth in H2, its best performance since the recovery in 2010. 
  • Spend on recruitment advertising also enjoyed a better year, rising by almost 4% in Q4 (the sector has lost over 60% of its value since 2007). As the economy and job market improves, investment in recruitment advertising is expected to grow more than 1% this year and over 3% in 2015. 
  • Driven by search advertising, the Other Classified sector has grown consistently since 2009, but in 2013 growth started to slow (from 18% in H1 to 9% in H2) as focus switched from desktop to mobile. Mobile is expected to account for a quarter of search spend by the end of 2014, rising to a third by 2015. Desktop search will be relatively flat over the same period as a result.
At-a-glance media summary

  • TV spot advertising grew 2.9% in 2013, and is expected to benefit from increased ad spend around the football World Cup with a boost of 5.5% this year. Broadcaster VOD grew 21.2% spurred by the continued popularity of catch up TV channels 
  • Radio ad spend picked up in Q4 2013, growing 6.2%, although overall spend for the year was down, partly due to the absence of the Jubilee and Olympics which had boosted revenues in the previous year
  • Out of home was another sector that benefited significantly from 2012’s big events. The sector performed well, holding onto this growth in 2013, with total spend up 2%. As technology advances, OOH should see strong growth, forecast at 4.5% in 2014 and 7% in 2015
  • National newsbrands continue to decline, despite the rise of digital ad revenues which grew 19.5% in 2013 to a value of £184m. The fall is expected to flatten this year (-0.2%) with a forecasted growth of 1.8% in 2015 
  • Regional newsbrands saw print ad spend drop (-8.8%) and digital revenues rise to 7.9%. The regionals have been particularly impacted by the fall in recruitment advertising. The decline in ad spend is forecast to continue to fall but at a slower rate
  • Magazines fell 5.7% in 2013, with print at -9.2% and digital growing 7.1%. Growth in digital ad spend is expected to offset the decline in print by 2015 with an overall growth rate of 0.6% forecast
  • Internet ad spend grew 15.6% in 2013, to £6.3bn. With a growth rate of 95.2% in 2013, mobile is expected to continue to grow rapidly, by 73% in 2014 and 46% in 2015. Total internet adspend is expected to increase by over 12% both this year and next.

IAB members are entitled to purchase the AA/Warc Expenditure Report at the discounted subscription rate of £710 per year. Visit for more information.

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