The outlook for the total UK advertising market in 2023 suggests that while growth will be minimal at 2.6 per cent year-on-year, the outlook has improved by 2.1 percentage points since the previous forecast in April, with spend now expected to reach £35.7bn. These figures also reflect the return to growth of key online formats, with internet now forecast to account for 76.7 per cent of all spend this year – and 77.6 per cent next year – compared to 75.1 per cent in 2022.
Spend on search increased by 5.1 per cent year-on-year, while online display rose by 3.6 per cent. These two formats, alone, accounted for 76.2 per cent of all ad spend during the first quarter. Other sectors showing good growth included Broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD), which rose by 18.7 per cent year-on-year; online radio (up 7.6 per cent); Out of Home (up 5.1 per cent); and withing this, Digital Out of Home (up 6.8 per cent).
The overall; muted outlook for this year reflects, in part, the inflationary pressures faced by all businesses and families, with the projections for 2023 suggesting a market contraction of 4.3 per cent in real terms.
Sporting events, including the Women’s World Cup (currently in progress) and the Para Athletics World Championships are, however, set to provide a boost to the UK advertising market in Q3 of this year when, most notably, TV spot and sponsorship as well as radio and out of home are expected to see growth in ad spend. Another channel set to see further post-pandemic recovery is cinema, which is projected to record 20.8 per cent year-on-year growth this year, buoyed by the release of blockbusters such as ‘Barbie’, ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One’.
The latest dataset suggests the UK’s ad market will grow by a further 4 per cent in 2024, to reach a total of £37.1bn. This represents a slight downgrade (-1.3 percentage points) from AA/WARC’s April forecast, but equates to growth of 1.1 per cent in real terms.
“This latest forecast indicates a slight improvement in outlook in terms of growth of spend, with the improvements in online forecasts being notable,” said Advertising Association CEO, Stephen Woodford, CEO. “However, with high inflation continuing to depress consumer and business confidence, we may end up seeing a real-terms contraction of nearly 4.3 per cent in 2023 for UK advertising investment. The recent higher-than-expected fall in inflation will hopefully continue and with that we will see confidence begin to build later in the year and into 2024, when the ad market is expected to return to growth.
“It is vital to recognise the value that advertising brings to the economy in supporting competition, innovation and growth ahead of the General Election next year. Together with WARC, we will continue to monitor advertising expenditure results and provide guidance for our industry and policy decision-makers within the UK Government.”