UK ad spend growth slows as Brexit uncertainty bites

The ad industry hopes for a “business-friendly outcome” to Brexit as ad investment in the first three months of the year slowed to 4.2%.

Growth in the UK ad market slowed in the first quarter of the year as an “uncertain period” for British business caused more measured investment.

UK ad spend was up 4.2% year on year to £6bn in the first three months of 2019, marking the 23rd consecutive quarter of growth, according to the Advertising Association and Warc’s quarterly expenditure report. But this was half a percentage point below the forecast growth and down on the 5.9% increase seen in the same period last year.

The report now forecasts that spend this year will increase 4.6% to £24.6bn, below the 6.2% growth seen in 2018.

Stephen Woodford, CEO of the AA, says: “These figures are testament to the resilience of UK advertising during an uncertain period for business.

“We hope the new administration can deliver a business-friendly outcome to our relationship with the EU, ensuring the UK’s domestic advertising market remains robust and our advertising exports keep growing.”

Online advertising saw some of the fastest growth, with online radio the standout as spend increased 26.5% year on year in the first quarter. TV video-on-demand saw growth of 17.5% and digital out-of-home 10.9%.

Across ‘traditional’ formats, cinema saw “respectable” growth of 12.3% and outdoor was up 6.8%. However, TV fell into decline, with investment dropping 2.5%, while direct mail, national news brands, magazine brands and radio all dropped.

Online advertising performed “strongly”, with search up 10.6% in the first three months of the year and overall digital display up 16.6%.

“We see online advertising in all its forms continuing to perform strongly, demonstrating again how the UK is Europe’s leading online advertising marketplace,” adds Woodford.

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