Rise of mobile and digital helps UK advertising hit highest growth in four years

In 2014, UK ad spend hit its highest rate since 2010 as it increased by 5.8% to £18.6bn, according to the annual expenditure report released today by the Advertising Association and Warc.


The rise, which has been attributed to the growth of digital, appears to have legs too, with ad spend predicted to hit the £20bn barrier by 2016.

Last year’s growth was driven by internet advertising and mobile, with both up by respective rates of +15% and +59%. There is also evidence of an increased ad spend on streaming services, with broadcast video-on-demand spend up 15.1%.

“It’s time to stop thinking of digital as something that lives on the internet, with cinemas, outdoor, news and television all seizing the opportunity,” said Tim Lefroy, chief executive at the Advertising Association, with the expenditure report also predicting the creation of 70,000 advertising-related jobs over the next five years.

The influx of new roles will mean that an estimated 434,000 people will work in the ad sector by 2019.

Lefroy added: “The digital trend is transforming our media, driving growth for jobs and keeping UK advertising ahead of the global competition.”

The report shows a clear trend towards advertisers embracing digital ad spend when it comes to the UK’s print media.

Digital spend for national (+16.4%) and regional (+24.7%) news brands is both up, while non-digital spend is down at rates of -4.7% for nationals and -3.6% for regionals.

However, Lefroy insists that print advertising is still far from dead.

“People predicted the death of candles when electricity was invented; this is just about brands doing things differently and changing the emphasis,” he said.

“It is clear regional newspapers do need protecting. There is a move afoot for tax breaks on regional news brands and this is important as they are the most trusted medium in local communities.”


The positive increase in UK ad spend follows the latest Bellwether report which showed that marketing budgets grew by 11.8% in the first three months of 2015, up from 6.1% in the final quarter of 2014 and the tenth successive quarter of growth.

The largest growth in the quarter was seen in Internet, particularly search and SEO. Internet spend was up by 8.4%, marking its 23rd successive quarter of growth.