Thursday 29 April 2021 12:01 am

UK advertising sector on track for strongest global recovery

The UK advertising sector is on track to achieve the strongest recovery of any major global market this year as the vaccine rollout fuels improved confidence among brands.

Ad spend is forecast to grow 15.2 per cent this year to £27bn, clawing back the £1.8bn decline suffered during the pandemic in 2020.

Read more: WPP returns to revenue growth as UK ad market bounces back

Further improvement is then expected to come in 2022, with the sector set to grow 7.2 per cent to hit a record value of £29bn.

The figures, published by the Advertising Association (AA) and Warc, highlight optimism that clients will begin to splash out on marketing again this year after slashing budgets due to the pandemic.

The forecasts predict particularly strong performance for the media sub-sectors worst hit by lockdowns, including 267 per cent growth for cinema and a 52 per cent boost for digital out-of-home.

Other formats, including TV, news publishers and magazine brands, are not expected to recoup 2020’s losses until next year, however.

It comes after ad giant WPP this week posted a surprise return to revenue growth in the first sector, with improved confidence driving improved performance in most of its major markets.

The report also shows final figures for 2020, when UK ad spend fell 7.2 per cent to £23.5bn.

The decline was less severe than originally feared, largely thanks to a recovery in ad spend in the final three months of the year.

Spend shifted significantly into online video, social media and search markets last year, as repeated lockdowns sparked increased demand for e-commerce.

Government ad spend also grew more than 37 per cent due to large-scale public health messaging used to combat Covid-19. This is expected to fall back this year, while other main consumer categories such as services, financial and industrial set to resume growth.

Read more: Facebook advertising chief issued warning over inflated audience figures

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said the pandemic “accelerated trends that were already changing the market, evident for several years”.

“The UK’s sophisticated online advertising marketplace helped to keep the economy moving and, no doubt, supported businesses, large and small, to stay connected with consumers who were no longer on the high street.”