Thursday 29 July 2021 12:01 am

UK ad spend forecasts lifted as lockdown easing drives recovery

Official forecasts for UK advertising spend in 2021 have been lifted after the easing of lockdown restrictions helped drive a better-than-expected recovery for the battered sector.

Ad spend is now expected to grow 18.2 per cent this year to hit a total of £27.7bn, an upgrade from the 15.2 per cent rise forecast in April.

The revision includes an estimated growth of almost 55 per cent during the second quarter – by far the highest on record, though the figures are flattered by a record-breaking slump during the pandemic.

The bullish numbers reflect increased optimism among businesses following the easing of most coronavirus restrictions.

The growth will recover the £1.8bn wiped off the UK ad market in 2020 and is expected to come ahead of a 7.7 per cent rise in 2022, when the market will be worth a record £30bn.

The forecasts, compiled by the Advertising Association (AA) and Warc, also suggest the UK is on track to achieve the fastest advertising recovery of any major European market this year.

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said: “It is brilliant to see that, following a record year, the future of UK advertising is set to deliver bright prospects for the entire media landscape. 

“With the UK having the fastest growth in Europe, we should take pride in the excellence of this industry and its vital contribution as we build back better from the pandemic.”

The sector is set to enjoy growth across the board, but particularly strong recovery is expected in areas of media most adversely affected by the pandemic.

Cinema is set to lead the way, with ad spend rising more than 300 per cent following a torrid year of closures. Out-of-home advertising is also set to rise by almost a third.

Online display ads, including social media and online video, and search will accelerate their growth this year after a strong pandemic performance.

TV ad spend is also set to increase by 15 per cent – an upgrade on previous forecasts reflecting a surge in activity during the Euros.

“These are hugely encouraging figures for the UK advertising industry and reflect the strong outlook in the wider economy,” said AA chief executive Stephen Woodford.