GroupM Downgrades U.K. TV Ad Forecast


GroupM has revised its 2017 U.K. advertising forecast from a previously projected 7-percent growth down to 4.1 percent.

U.K. advertising is expected to see its eighth consecutive year of growth, with the 4.1-percent increase in spending taking the industry to a predicted investment of £18.6 billion ($23.6 billion). The downgrade is partly due to an overall drop in TV investment by several of its largest categories—among them food, finance, cosmetics and retail. GroupM reduced its TV investment forecast from flat to being down by 3 percent this year. Another factor in the revised growth prediction is GroupM’s outlook on “pure-play internet” growth, from the 15 percent estimated in November 2016 to 11 percent predicted in the new forecast. (GroupM defines pure-play internet as digital advertising minus elements attributable to “legacy” TV and print brands.)

The media investment management group reports that a continuing challenge for TV is the accelerating loss of the 16- to 24-year-old audience. “TV has always been an older-skewing medium, but the loss of younger, ‘lighter’ viewers—or at least their escape from TV’s measurement domain—makes TV’s measured audiences less varied,” GroupM said. “This nibbles away at the total campaign reach a given volume of audience can achieve.” GroupM predicts this year will garner 59 billion 16- to 24-year-old commercial TV impressions in the U.K., a 10-pecent drop since the prior year.

“We came into the year predicting zero revenue growth for TV, and now we are at -3 percent, a dramatic change compared to TV’s outstanding performance of 10-percent growth in 2015,” said Adam Smith, Futures Director at GroupM. “The ‘cost-per-view’ culture engendered by digital video, which prizes price above safety and quality, has fortunately not yet knocked off TV’s crown as the medium with the best-value cost per impression. We think TV’s present pressures are more cyclical, which is typical behavior in this sector and reflects the economic cycle, rather than structural issues.”

Smith added: “We had previously discounted Brexit as a drag on the economy, but the recent U.K. general election has magnified rather than reduced uncertainty, in contrast to political and economic stabilization in the Eurozone. This is not helpful for growth when consumers and public finances are already under stress, and corporate investment subdued.”

GroupM’s initial forecast for 2018 is for total U.K. media investment growth of 4.5 percent to include pure-play digital gaining 2 points of market share, rising to 58 percent.

“Despite the challenging dynamics in economic and political arenas, our advertising forecast demonstrates the fortitude of the U.K. advertising market,” commented Nick Theakstone, CEO of GroupM UK. “Sustained investment growth and advertisers’ embrace of automating technologies show the optimism and confidence marketers have for reaching the U.K. consumer digitally. Still, audiences are elusive, especially younger ones, and this challenge will only be solved by leveraging data insights throughout campaigns. This is why GroupM continues to invest in data and technology, to future proof our clients’ ability to address and engage their audiences.”