Tuesday 16 March 2021 12:01 am

UK advertising exports hit record £11bn ahead of Covid slump

UK advertising exports grew to a record £11bn in 2019, new figures have shown, highlighting the strong growth of the sector before a pandemic-induced slump.

International trade in UK advertising and marketing research services rose seven per cent year on year, putting it just behind computer services in terms of exports.

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The figures, compiled by industry think tank Credos from ONS data, also showed the industry’s efforts to shift to new markets as a result of Brexit.

EU nations accounted for 40 per cent of all UK advertising, market research, and opinion polling services, with EU and EEA countries accounting for 42 per cent. This was down from 53 per cent the previous year.

The US remained the largest importer for the sector, buying £1.1bn worth of UK ad services.

The positive figures reflect a growing number of companies looking to sell their services abroad as the UK opens up to new markets in the aftermath of Brexit.

But it comes ahead of the Covid-19 outbreak in March last year, which wreaked havoc across the sector.

Advertising spend is estimated to have fallen almost eight per cent to £23.2bn in 2020, according to the latest estimates from industry bodies the Advertising Association (AA) and Warc.

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford hailed “outstanding” export figures, adding that they offered “some much-needed positive news after a tumultuous year for our own industry and the entire global economy”.

“The full impact of the past year on exports will not be known fully until next year, but with the vaccine rollout continuing apace and the global economy making the return to normal, now is the time to look forward and plan for the future and to demonstrate that the UK is not only open for business but remains the undisputed global hub for advertising and marketing services.”

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The report found that businesses were optimistic about a rebound for the sector this year, though some concerns remained about the continued impact of the pandemic and Brexit.

In particular, respondents cited worries about an inability to travel, pointing to this as a key part of driving new business.