IPA Bellwether Report – industry reaction

The latest IPA Bellwether Report was released today, bringing some cheering news for advertisers and economists. We asked the industry for their reaction…

Elizabeth Brennan, Head of Advertiser Strategy, Permutive:
“The latest IPA Bellwether report paints a positive picture of the recovery of the industry. It is extremely encouraging to see marketing budgets thriving again for the first time since 2019, with ad spend forecasts also set to improve throughout 2021.

“With the recent updates to Apple’s privacy protections for iOS 15, coupled with third-party cookies being removed from Google Chrome by the end of 2023, it’s clear the protection of consumer privacy in digital advertising is gaining momentum. As we enter this new post-pandemic era, consumer privacy must remain at the forefront of advertiser’s minds. Both advertisers and publishers must ensure they have a sustainable, privacy-safe solution that not only safeguards them from the tumultuous changes in the industry, but helps them take advantage of upcoming opportunities. For this to happen, adtech will need to take a new role in facilitating the direct relationships between media buyer and media owner. Publisher first party data is already becoming the key to the future of digital advertising.”

Silke Zetzsche, Commercial Director, A Million Ads:
“It is fantastic to see marketing budgets improving for the first time since Q4 2019 – a true sign of the progress and recovery our industry is making. However, brands shouldn’t get complacent – now is the time to bring a fresh take to advertising to recapture the attention of consumers through a personal approach.

“The report shows that within main media, video spend has increased by 0.9 per cent from Q1, whilst audio spend has increased by a massive 10.1 per cent. This should come as no surprise and as a result, we are increasingly seeing advertisers rolling their audio and video advertising approaches into one to create a unified AV strategy. Adding a dynamic element to this allows brands to instantly adjust elements such as voice-overs, script lines and visuals based on contextual clues and data signals, making the creative much more engaging and personalised to its target audience.

“Research we recently conducted has also shown that 55 per cent of UK consumers are more likely to buy a product if an ad they have seen or heard is personalised. Therefore by adopting a unified dynamic AV strategy, brands are able to personalise audio and visual elements, making advertising an experience consumers can enjoy.”

Justin Taylor, UK MD, Teads:
“As restrictions in England start to ease, it’s fantastic to see that confidence is returning with UK marketing budgets increasing to what we were seeing pre-pandemic. However, the industry can’t rest on its laurels and learnings from the pandemic should be carried forward for years to come. The principles of investing in premium publishers and taking a sensible approach to keyword blocking must remain. What’s more, brand safety and working with partners that respect the user experience will be key if we are to meet the strong rates of growth in ad spend in 2022 which are forecast.

“As the latest IPA Bellwether report signals, brands expecting strong sales must remain on the edge of caution due to new strains of the virus. With online advertising up +11 per cent from the previous quarter, it will be important for brands to continue to invest in quality digital partners to ensure they are communicating with consumers in a positive way if they are to see conversion rates come to fruition.”

Shumel Lais, Founder and CEO, Appsumer:
“Its welcoming to see ad spend and confidence growing in line with vaccine coverage. However, what’s clear is that budget isnt coming back in all the same areas as before as consumer behaviour has accelerated towards online and mobile app purchases. Our research, for instance, has shown that lockdown caused budget growth across many app categories like fitness, gaming and food delivery.

“This consumer behaviour has become embedded faster than anticipated and simultaneously, brands are having to adapt their models and their advertising strategies to reflect this. Consumer habits will not return to pre-Covid normality and as a result, the advertising mix will not either.

“In addition, mobile app advertisers are also having to contend with iOS 14.5+ adoption that has reached critical mass in recent weeks. In fact, we’ve seen advertisers increasingly shift budgets from iOS to Android and this has been most notable amongst smaller brands. Moving forward, mobile app advertisers, no matter the size, should be looking to further diversify their media mix to limit exposure to market volatility. And only by getting the right measurement tools in place will they reap the rewards.”

Ben Walmsley, Commercial Director, Publishing, News UK:
“It is heartening to see marketing budgets increasing for the first time since 2019. Throughout the turbulence of the pandemic some advertisers cut budgets and focused on performance, whilst others took a bolder approach by striving to emotionally connect with audiences, either to show empathy or how their brand could offer practical help. As the post-pandemic world takes shape, advertisers should take note of the positive impact of stronger emotional connections successfully forged over the last year when creating campaigns.

“Our research has shown that emotional context can increase advertising attention by up to 45 per cent by understanding the emotional resonance of the content around which it sits. It is therefore not surprising that the power of emotion as a targeting mechanism is becoming ever-more important for advertisers. Critical to success will be the ability for marketers to understand the extent to which preferences, opinions and emotions have changed and the permanence of those changes.”

Charlie Smith, Managing Director, Europe, Blis:
“As restrictions start to ease in the UK, it’s positive to see that marketing budgets have increased for the first time since Q4 2019. This signals a boost of confidence following the pandemic and is a sign that we are heading to recovery, as vaccinations continue to roll out and we slowly return to normality. Indeed our own data highlighted that as of the end of May the number of visitors to high street retailers in the UK was 95 per cent of our pre-COVID benchmark.

“However, the industry is still in a period of uncertainty when it comes to addressing privacy and identity. With Google’s recent announcement that it will delay the deprecation of third-party cookies for a further two years many marketers have been left in limbo. But let’s not forget, most third-party data in the programmatic ecosystem is not fit for purpose. Therefore, as brands begin to replenish their budgets they need to ensure they are investing in new privacy-first solutions that put the consumer first.

“Now is the time for the industry to move away from its previous reliance on personal data, by choosing a new way forward. For example, there are still a wide range of data signals available to draw upon, which, when utilised in combination with location intelligence, allows marketers to map precise audiences for targeting. Ultimately, marketers will benefit from a more innovative and informed approach to digital advertising and the industry should embrace the chance to rewrite the rulebook for a privacy-first world that works better for brands and consumers alike.”

Dominic Woolfe, CEO, Azerion UK:
“The IPA Bellwether report reflects the optimism we have felt over the last few months with the lockdown restrictions slowly but surely lifting. The socio-economic impact of this quarter has been promising, as businesses begin to prepare for a strong economic recovery following the impacts of Covid-19. In light of the successful vaccination programme throughout the UK and the re-opening of the economy, it is great to see that the UK is now gearing itself back up for growth with the increase in marketing budgets and ad spend this quarter a strong indication of this.

“However, if the industry is to meet the forecasts predicted for ad spend in 2022 brands must continue to work with partners that deliver meaningful outcomes. With the IPA Bellwether report playing on the edge of caution regarding new strains of the virus and how this may result in a brisk spell of consumer spending, brands will need to maintain a consistent level of communication with consumers in a creative and engaging way within brand safe environments.”

Jonny Whitehead, Board Director, Skyrise Intelligence: 
“It’s great to see marketing budgets have expanded for the first time since 2019 with places opening up again and with businesses expected to make a strong economic recovery. This shows that confidence is definitely regaining post-pandemic and the industry is moving in the right direction.

“While progress is certainly being made, agencies and advertisers will need to balance new ways of working with the need to adapt to a rapidly changing digital landscape. There will also be a need to focus on accessing, analysing and testing the use of non-personal targeting signals such as context, time, and location as the industry prepares for further data deprecation if we are to meet the strong growth forecast for ad spend in 2022.”

Nial Ferguson, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Sourcepoint:
“This latest IPA Bellwether report points towards 2021 as a year of strong growth for the advertising ecosystem, as we reach pre-pandemic levels of spend. While Covid-19 has caused disruption to many marketers, issues such as increasing global privacy regulations and restrictions on browser identifiers still remain an important issue for those who don’t seek resolutions. Therefore, businesses must harness the increase in marketing budgets to future- proof themselves against changing regulations and privacy enhancements.

“Going forward, the industry must place data ethics front and centre to communicate the value exchange to consumers. We now have the opportunity to invest in compliant technologies that support the free and open internet, which can, in turn, create a privacy-first future.”

Barry Cupples, CEO, Talon Group:
“We’re seeing a really positive return to market from brands across the summer as the UK opens up and over 45m adults receive their vaccination. Out of Home – and particularly digital OOH – are projected to outgrow the ad market not just in 2021 but to continue the evolution in 2022, with forecasts expecting its value to increase by 57 per cent in the UK this year.

“Consumer sentiment and confidence for a return to the entertainment, retail and travel sectors gives huge opportunities for brands and the OOH channel. This reflects the incredible resilience, collaboration and agility shown by OOH over the pandemic.”

Sally Laycock, CEO, Incubeta UK:
“It’s fantastic to see marketing budgets are at their highest since Q4 2019 and signals a promising H2 for the industry. As the UK continues to lift restrictions, sectors that had been affected by the pandemic are slowly bouncing back. In store purchases are increasing as the highstreet opens and travel is slowly beginning to open as consumer confidence returns thanks to the vaccine rollout.

“With marketing budgets increasing, it will be important for marketers to continue embracing the digital innovation they’ve invested in during the pandemic. While life is returning to normal, investment in digital should not be discarded and instead it should continue to work in unison with offline channels.

“As the excitement around Freedom Day continues to build, consumers will be out and about, largely returning to their pre-covid habits which means there will be a diverse range of opportunities to reach consumers. To have the best chance of keeping track of a newly mobile audience, marketers will need to develop a unified approach to campaigns and utilise their data-driven capabilities to engage, interact and connect across multiple channels and devices.”

Tim Geenen, Managing Director, Addressability Europe, LiveRamp:
“As substantiated by the report, we’ve been anticipating that advertising budgets would rebound and expand in 2021. Our own industry research suggests the same trend, revealing 78 per cent of senior marketers believe that the final withdrawal of third-party cookies will have a positive impact on their advertising strategy.

“Net/net: advertisers aren’t backing down. If anything, they’re doubling down, underscoring the value of reaching and engaging with customers across channels. Yet challenges still exist. While Chrome has delayed the cookie, the world is still more cookieless today than it is cookie-based. Safari, Firefox, mobile in-app, and CTV all operate without cookies. Marketers need omnichannel, neutral, people-based addressability and they want to buy on that today. We see case study after case study showing that people-based addressable buys outperform 3p cookie buys.

“Now is the time to encourage new, more direct ways for advertisers to reach and engage high-value audiences, and simultaneously explore direct first-party relationships to expand their data foundation and, ultimately, deliver better customer experiences.”

Patrick Johnson, CEO, Hybrid Theory:
“The digital advertising industry has proved to be flexible and resilient over the last year, defying the doom and gloom predictions of many during the pandemic. The recent IPA figures are the strongest proof yet that the sector has continued to grow, which puts us in a very exciting place as business is predicted to ‘turn the corner’ toward recovery throughout the rest of 2021.

“With total budgets set to expand, many companies will be looking to improve their offering and brand presence, harnessing the learnings Covid has driven around digital’s power to enable more deliberate and precise messaging, and campaign targeting, to prepare for the influx of pent up demand from consumers post-covid.

“For companies looking to expand their offerings or embrace digital for the first time as budgets recover, it’s vital they use available data and draw on expert guidance that can help them make the most of this spend; leveraging the right combination of tools, technology, and talent to deliver on campaigns and capitalise on the much anticipated increase in demand.”

Calum Smeaton, CEO & Founder, TVSquared:
“Sentiment for total marketing budgets is positive, reflecting the country’s optimism as lockdown protocols are continuing to ease, and economic confidence returns. Looking specifically at video budgets, they’ve been revised +4.2 per cent. That said, this doesn’t accurately reflect the growth that converged TV – linear and streaming – has experienced, as IPAs video category also incorporates cinema, which has inevitably struggled.

“TV – across VOD, OTT and linear – now encompasses the best of both worlds: high-quality programming and digital-like measurement and targeting. With streaming audiences continuing to grow, cross-platform measurement is essential as viewers consume content across time, channels and devices. Through the rest of the year, we can expect advertisers to seek the analytics needed to maximise campaign reach, frequency and performance across platforms to capitalise on a more diversified TV landscape.”

Alison Harding, Vice President Data Solutions EMEA, Lotame:
“It is encouraging to see signs of growth in the UK forecast for adspend in 2021. At the same time it is important that marketers and media owners future proof their businesses against the death of third-party cookies in 2023. Though Google has delayed the deprecation of the third-party cookie until 2023, around 40 per cent of the global market has already done away with them (Safari and Firefox).

“Now is the perfect time to start or continue testing identity solutions, as you’re able to compare cookie vs. non-cookie environments. Despite Google’s delay in cookie removal, identity testing should be on top everyone’s priorities, and it would be naive for the industry to slow down any time soon. A wait-and-see approach is a recipe for disaster. Marketers and media owners should use the additional time and spend to learn, test, and determine the best solutions for their business.”

Dominic Trigg, CEO, Percept:
“It’s pleasing to see that UK companies have revised their total marketing budgets for the first time in a year and a half. However, it is also essential that marketers are able to see and understand the true performance of their spend. Performance data such as CPA or CPC doesn’t tell the whole story of how marketers can get more for their money. Marketers must look beyond the industry metrics of clicks vs spend. They need a holistic diagnosis of what is working and what isn’t. By focusing on outcomes and measurement quality rather than media exposure KPIs, marketers can save money and improve the build process of digital spending.”

Nick Morley, Managing Director, EMEA, Integral Ad Science (IAS):
“It’s exciting to see that UK marketing budgets and confidence levels across the industry have increased in the latest IPA Bellwether report, following vaccination roll-outs and the easing of lockdown restrictions. Looking ahead, more advertisers and publishers have an opportunity to deploy strategies that optimise their digital media quality. With the rising importance of contextual targeting in marketing strategies, this is one major trend to watch. The pandemic has left a lasting impact on consumer habits, with the shift to a digital-first lifestyle, and brands should adopt the latest technology to control the context of their ad campaigns. In a post-pandemic landscape, advertisers are looking to engage with reinvigorated consumers via safe, suitable, and relevant ads. This will be key for brands to capture long-term consumer interest and spending.”

Philip Acton, Country Manager UK, BeNeFrance, Adform:
“It’s been a buoyant Q2 – at Adform we’ve seen all major products increase year-on-year against aggressive growth targets. We’re seeing both the buy and sell-side perform equally well, which appears reflective of current priorities to clean up the supply path and focus on accelerating first-party ID adoption. There are expectations of strong consumer spending as restrictions continue to ease heading into H2, while being able to resume face-to-face meetings and attend networking events will be instrumental to the continued uptick in marketing spend.”

Zack Sullivan, CRO UK, Future plc:
“Confidence among both the industry and consumers remains strong as we head into H2, and the crucial peak trading period leading into Christmas. Our own survey of 2,000 UK consumers in June 2021 also indicates a large pool of pent-up savings – to the tune of almost £200bn – with the majority of those surveyed planning to splash the cash as restrictions lift. Consumers are already gearing up for Black Friday, with 82 per cent expecting to be more or similarly engaged than in the past, representing a significant opportunity for brands and agencies. The latest IPA Bellwether is yet another vote of confidence as the industry continues to revise and increase ad spend forecasts driven by consumers’ desire to make the most of 2021.”

Harriet Durnford-Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Adverity:
“The findings echo the positive sentiment we’re hearing from partners every day as the country prepares to open up following a successful vaccination campaign. However, that’s not to say marketers are abundant with cash all of a sudden – the same industry challenges remain and budgets are under intense scrutiny, with growing pressure to find new ways to measure performance and ROI that’s not reliant on third-party cookies. Marketers will need to ensure their spend remains accountable and understand how much each of their channels contribute to overall revenue. So while this remains a positive story – and a welcome one – we must keep working to find sustainable long-term solutions so that ad spend forecasts can continue to increase well into the future.”

Simon Stone, GM EMEA, LoopMe:
“With strong signs of recovery for the UK ad industry, it’s important for marketers to maintain their ability to be agile and prepared for changing environments, and consumer behaviour. While a positive outlook is welcomed, we’re still tackling a post-IDFA world, with other challenges on the horizon that can decrease targeting capabilities.

“To help increase long-term campaign success in an increasingly busy environment, brands should be looking at building their insight and predictive capabilities with a real-time infrastructure, in a privacy compliant way. Now is the time for marketers to be adopting a performance-focused approach where measurement is tied to outcome-centric KPIs from the outset.”

Ross Nicol, VP EMEA, Zefr:
“Once again video has proved its merits, with marketers upwardly revising budgets for a second quarter in a row. Furthermore, financial prospects at the company and industry level are in positive territory – indicating that spend on this channel will continue to soar in H2.

“However, as this format enjoys its time centre stage, the pressure remains on advertisers to deliver highly optimised video experiences – be it on YouTube, Facebook or TikTok – that don’t compromise on privacy. In Q3, it will be vital that marketers use their relationships with their data partners to discover how contextual data can be leveraged in an efficient way, that both embraces consumer trust and achieves brand suitable ad placements that hit the mark on reach, delivery and safety.”

BIll Swanson, EMEA Strategy Lead, IRIS.TV:
“It will be of no surprise that the main growth in media spend is continuing to spill out of linear TV and into CTV as marketers become increasingly aware of its value.

“However, agencies must continue to ensure they adjust their buying strategies to this format. Advertisers should not have to compromise between an audience-first or content-first strategy and must look to pull both together. To achieve this, buyers must have access to data from both sides. For example, buyers don’t always know what genre their CTV campaigns ran against, or the specific show after which their ad was shown. Capturing and measuring this information will be crucial to improving media planning for CTV in Q3 and ensuring return on spend.”

Andy Ashley, International Marketing Director, Digital Element:
“Many in the industry will have breathed a sigh of relief reading the latest IPA figures. With marketing budgets, financial prospects and predicted adspend all on the rise, the future is looking much brighter.
“While this is great news, it is important advertisers don’t rest on their laurels. With lockdowns and tightened budgets came a need for brands to work smarter and think more carefully about the solutions they use to achieve the best results. This attitude must continue, with tools that are accurate, versatile and reliable key to success in a market that remains unpredictable.”

Filippo Gramigna, CEO, Audiencerate:
“Growth in the digital ad industry is clearly returning and we expect it to continue accelerating, especially in Q4 2021. Business leaders now understand the need to go digital; over the last 18 months digital transformation has been happening across the board, in all business sectors, and marketers that are data driven and innovative have seized the chance to gain market share. The recent cookie deprecation delay by Google has opened a big window of opportunity to accelerate programmatic and data driven campaigns, and we expect to see more encouraging evolution in these areas.”

Lisa Haskins, Director of Marketing and Operations EMEA, VidMob:
“Brand advertisers have really seized the chance to connect with consumers through creative campaigns across social platforms over the course of the pandemic. As we move into this new period of buoyant mood and boosted budgets, we predict an exuberant and uplifting emphasis in ad creative featuring representations of life returning to normal.

“Creative is the most important driver of campaign performance. Digital advertisers across every platform need to be looking at the full anatomy of the ad, especially the creative data — rather than relying on delivery optimisation algorithms — to ensure that their bolstered budgets are being well spent and that campaigns are optimised for the current mood of the consumer.”

Patrick Johnson, CEO, Hybrid Theory:
“The digital advertising industry has proved to be flexible and resilient over the last year, defying the doom and gloom predictions of many during the pandemic. The recent IPA figures are the strongest proof yet that the sector has continued to grow, which puts us in a very exciting place as business is predicted to ‘turn the corner’ toward recovery throughout the rest of 2021.”
“With total budgets set to expand, many companies will be looking to improve their offering and brand presence, harnessing the learnings Covid has driven around digital’s power to enable more deliberate and precise messaging, and campaign targeting, to prepare for the influx of pent up demand from consumers post-covid.”

Michael Nevins, CMO, Smart AdServer:
“We welcome the positive sentiment of the latest IPA Bellwether report. While some of this confidence should be attributed to the global COVID-19 recovery efforts, including the vaccine rollout, we shouldn’t overlook the positive work that is taking place within the industry to improve trading practices and create a trusted environment.

“Equipping advertisers with the tools to achieve greater efficiency with their ad spend, while also ensuring publishers have the solutions in place to drive greater value for their inventory are key industry priorities. While Google’s delay may give the ad tech industry further time to implement viable alternatives for a world without third-party cookies, it is important we all still work aggressively on those alternatives to create a transparent and privacy-compliant ecosystem.”

Nicolas Bidon, Global CEO, Xaxis:
“Marketers are searching for certainty in uncertain times, and the latest IPA Bellwether Report ad spend findings support this. The digital advertising category saw +11 per cent of respondents revise their online marketing budgets upwards from the previous quarter, an area where technologies such as AI are having a significant impact. These tools can confer additional certainty for marketers through the creation of custom metrics that enable highly measurable campaigns based on specific objectives, and are directed towards business outcomes.

“As we move through 2021 some uncertainty is likely to persist, but marketers can be sure that consumers will continue to spend their time engaging with news and entertainment on digital devices. And, as restrictions relax in the UK, consumers will increasingly be using these devices out and about, which creates further opportunities for complementary omnichannel campaign strategies. For example, out-of-home (OOH) experienced a boost in Q2 in part due to the programmatic revolution it is undergoing. Marketers must make use of these new programmatic capabilities in channels such as OOH to create more holistic data-driven campaigns, better resonate with audiences, and achieve a reliable return on investment for brands – no matter how long uncertainty lasts.”

Phil Duffield, VP UK, The Trade Desk:
“I’m sure we can all agree that seeing budgets begin to expand again has allowed marketers to let out a sigh of relief after a troubling time of cuts. But, as budgets are unlocked, expectations to prove the ROI of every new pound spent on advertising are higher than ever.

“And if the last five quarters have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Consumer behaviours may never return to the predictable patterns we once knew, so decision-makers will need to remain agile in their approach. This is where the beauty of data-driven advertising truly lies – in its ability to allow marketers to remain nimble and flex campaigns as needed. Marketers who invest in data no longer have to fear that months’ worth of planning has been thrown down the drain, as adaptability is baked into strategies from the outset.

“I’m optimistic that marketers who adopt the right tech – with the capability to adapt spend according to what’s working and what isn’t – will have plenty of reasons to be positive going forward. One thing’s for sure – this quarter signals a bright future for the ad industry.”

Andrew Stephenson, Director of Marketing, EMEA, Treasure Data:
“The uptick in spend in this quarter’s IPA bellwether gives a strong indication that brands are desperate to engage and entertain consumers again.But as budgets increase, particularly in areas such as video, audio and online advertising, brands risk firing blind and creating ineffective campaigns unless marketers have a true view of their customer.

“The need for a solid data management strategy has never been so important. Brands are operating in a fundamentally different landscape following the pandemic, and connecting online and offline data will be critical to delivering a quality experience that keeps customers coming back.”

Nick Reid, Regional VP of Northern Europe, DoubleVerify:
“With this quarters Bellwether Report anticipating 2021 and 2022 will record strong rates of growth in ad spend – predicting 7.5 per cent and and 6.0 per cent respectively as businesses recover to pre-pandemic levels of activity – it is clear that the industry is aiming towards recovery. Brands, agencies and vendors must take this moment to reset and drive an improved ecosystem; one with clear baselines of media quality, accurate performance and relevant, privacy-friendly experiences.

“Only by utilising data more efficiently, and collaboratively, can they create a more transparent ecosystem which informs smarter strategies, fuels accountability and offers greater value for all stakeholders. After all, if we get this next phase right, and harness the current momentum of digital transformation, we can put in place profound benefits for all parties; striving for a stronger, safer and more secure ad ecosystem for the consumer and the brands who look to inspire them.”

Emil Bielski, UK MD, Croud:
“Strategic thinking and adaptability have seen businesses weather tough times, but with a strong uptake of the vaccination and an end of lockdown finally due, we can look forward with optimism once again. Media consumption increased during lockdown and consumer habits evolved in ways from which there is no going back.

“As a result, eCommerce advertising and paid search, which led the road to recovery, are now an established, integral part of the media mix, with eCommerce growth showing no signs of slowing. As the world starts to reopen, it’s important to consider the strong, brand building opportunities that the likes of digital, audio and video present, as it’s unlikely that consumers will revert completely to their pre-pandemic ways. Whilst recovering budgets are great news for the industry, we must learn from the lessons of the past 16 months, that flexibility is key and calculated risks reap rewards.”

Darren Savage, Chief Strategy Office, Tribal Worldwide:
“The preceding 18 months have been the world’s largest psychology experiment; during this time behaviour change has been imposed upon millions and attitudes are likely to have shifted regarding brands and drivers of choice.

As we slowly and uncertainly move out of the pandemic, it is especially important to invest in understanding how any behavioural and attitude changes have, and could, impact on brand choice. These dynamics need to be tracked over time to identify and understand which are temporal and which are more permanent.

Businesses should resist the superficial appeal of short-term sales messaging and invest their marketing budgets in more effective long-term brand building. This will require businesses to revaluate and, if needs be, modify not only how brands communicate what they stand for, but how they manifest in appropriate and persuasively potent ways across the entire customer experience.

Critical to this success will be to unify all departments and individuals so they are in sync with the commercial objectives of brand building opportunities, while refining what each role plays in executing it. Those businesses that follow this course of action will ultimately accelerate commercial growth and leave rivals in their wake.”

Justine O’Neill, Senior Director, Analytic Partners:
“Marketers can breathe a collective sigh of relief at news of marketing budgets expanding for the first time since Q4 2019 and at long last the end of five quarters of continuous cuts. There is pent-up consumer demand in the market and savvy marketers should now be focussing on how they can make the most if it and truly maximise consumer spend to make up for the lean times through the pandemic. But marketers shouldn’t start spending blindly – valuable lessons have been learned during the pandemic about changes in consumer behaviour and the importance of the right channel mix to maximise effectiveness & efficiency. As restrictions lift and consumers start to return in greater numbers to the high street, data will be the secret sauce to ensuring they use the right channels and activations to deliver the recipe for success.”

Mark Connolly, Managing Partner, Client Success at What’s Possible Group
“After months of cut and constrained budgets, overall business confidence is high amongst marketers, with a notable increase in brand marketing as advertisers start to look longer term and move away from the short term tactics of sales discounting and price promotions. Brands, particularly in retail and fashion, need to maximise revenue and compensate for the rent and rate holidays that will come to an end shortly. While high vaccination rates and the lifting of many covid restrictions will encourage more footfall into stores, marketing budgets continue to be more localised than they were two years ago.

“Many consumers continue to work from home and avoid city centres. This move to local is driving a shift in campaign planning channel choice, with savvy marketers increasingly utilising postcode localisation, AdSmart technology, OOH campaigns and door drop media. DTC also remains the growth opportunity for all brands that can deliver their goods or services direct to home. Growing confidence and returning budgets mean that landmark events will take on new significance in campaign planning. National TV has benefited from the Euro 2020 boost and England’s success through to the final, and 2022 will be the World Cup year, so another opportunity for dynamic growth brands to advertise. For those dreaming of a sun-kissed beach, the travel spend recovery is still out on the horizon but one to watch in 2022.”

Alexander Goesswein, VP Key Accounts EMEA, Criteo:
“After a unpredictable year in advertising, it’s encouraging to see optimism return and marketing budgets jump sharply up for the first time since the end of 2019; unsurprisingly online advertising grew by 11 per cent. While the pandemic forced marketers into a cautious approach, it also advocated for an online-first mentality and a greater reliance on digital that allows brands to find creative ways to reach their audiences.

“Today, the world is edging back to ‘normality’ and in the UK the confirmation this week of most restrictions easing by July 19th would have served as a well-timed boost for all aspects of marketing budgets. But, consumers aren’t going back to their old shopping habits overnight and the challenge for brands moving forward is to devise an online strategy that compliments offline channels. It’s more important than ever to satisfy customers at every touchpoint and achieve a balanced experience. This can be achieved through connecting with consumers by targeting them at all touchpoints; allowing them to discover, evaluate, engage and ultimately buy into a product or service. Where agility was required first and foremost – 9 in 10 marketers across all verticals stated they had made changes to their strategy due to the pandemic – we are now seeing stability return to the industry.”

“Going into the second half of the year, brands will have to find a way to stand out in a saturated online marketplace and hit that sweet spot where offline and online converge, for one channel cannot thrive without the other. And as we see the beginnings of an economic rebound materialise, the move into a post-cookie era, where targeted advertising will have to be more granular and accurate to consumers’ ever-changing habits, it will ultimately shape brand ROI, or reputational challenges.”