UK ad industry exports hit £18 billion in 2023, ahead of telecoms and legal

The value of UK advertising exports grew by 15% to reach £18bn in 2023, a figure four times higher than a decade ago.

The UK’s reputation as a global advertising powerhouse has been bolstered by new figures showing a substantial increase in the country’s advertising exports.

The value of UK advertising exports grew by 15% to reach £18bn in 2023, a figure four times higher than a decade ago. The UK is the second-biggest advertising exporter globally, behind just the US.

Based on the figures, UK advertising exports are worth more than exports in the engineering, telecommunications, legal, accounting, audio-visual or architectural sectors.

In terms of who is buying the UK’s advertising services, the US is the biggest importer, taking £3.4bn worth of UK advertising. Germany and France import £1.2bn and £1bn respectively.

Exports going to Europe, including both EU and non-EU countries, account for 63% (£11.4bn) of UK advertising exports.

UK ad spend hits £36.6bn in 2023 amid real terms contraction

The gap between UK and US exports has now narrowed from $4.7bn (£3.7bn) to $3bn (£2.4bn), according to advertising think tank Credos’ analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics, on behalf of the UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG).

The rise in exports outpaces the increase of the UK’s advertising spend in 2023, as reported by the Advertising Association and WARC. The UK advertising market grew 6% to £36.6bn in 2023, however, total growth when discounting high inflation rates was -1.2%.

UKAEG chair and VCCP group CEO Julian Douglas says, “The UK advertising industry’s talent for effectiveness and innovation is a global success story, transforming businesses around the world.”

Advertising Association CEO Stephen Woodford adds: “The UK has a world-leading reputation for advertising creativity, strategy and effectiveness and is the second largest exporter of advertising services globally, showing continued strong growth in 2023.”

UKAEG is backed by the Advertising Association, APA, BPMA and IPA. Woodford says this industry alliance is going “from strength to strength” as it looks “forward to working in partnership with the industry and the next UK government, to support a second decade of higher growth”.

UKAEG has worked with agency VCCP London to create a digital OOH campaign to highlight the scale of the UK industry. The ‘106 Lions on a shirt’ campaign refers to the number of UK wins at last year’s Cannes Lions, with links to the summer of sporting events currently being kicked off by the Euros.