UK ad growth outpaces rest of Europe as spend hits highest level on record

The UK ad market appears to be in rude health as the latest figures from the Advertising Association and Warc show that spend hit the highest quarterly level on record and outpaced growth in the rest of Europe.

Rising prices

The study found that spend grew by 8.2% in the first quarter to reach £4.71bn, boosted by mobile which saw growth of 50.9%. The figures caused Warc to up its growth predictions for the year to 6.2% with the Rugby World Cup and advances in digital outdoor advertising expected to boost ad revenues in the latter part of the year.

Continued strong growth is expected through 2016, with the UK set to ad spend increase at the third highest rate of any global market, behind only China and India.

The spending boost comes despite economic concerns particularly due to the crisis in Greece and the election earlier in the year. According to the latest Bellwether report from the IPA, marketers’ confidence also took a hit in the first part of the year.

Tim Lefroy, the Advertising Association’s CEO, says: “Despite uncertainty in Europe and at home prior to the election, these figures come as a welcome boost. Ad spend is growing faster here than anywhere in Europe, to the benefit of our digital economy, creative industries and UK plc.”

‘Strong’ growth in traditional advertising but internet still top

More traditional advertising formats including TV, radio and outdoor all saw strong growth in the quarter. TV in particular saw spend increase by 11.5% to reach £1.22bn while radio saw growth of 8.2% and out-of-home rose by 9.7%.

Internet, including mobile, ad spend reached its highest quarterly total on record as sales rose by 12.8% to reach £1.9bn. Internet ad spend has been the largest ad platform in the UK since 2011 but is now expected to overtake TV globally next year, according to a separate report from Warc.

The UK remains ahead of the rest of the world in terms of the amount spent per head on internet advertising last year, coming in at £114 and forecast to reach £142 by 2016, ahead of second-placed Australia.

The positive outlook for the UK ad market comes as Warc downgrades its global ad spend forecast to 2.3% for 2015.