GroupM is forecasting that U.K. advertising will grow 7.8 percent in 2019, to £22 billion ($28.5 billion), with an optimistic outlook leading the firm to revise its 2020 forecast upward.
The This Year Next Year: U.K. Media Forecasts report estimate that advertising will grow by 7.8 percent this year to mark the sixth consecutive year of mid- to- high-single-digit growth. Since 2013, the U.K.’s advertising sector has increased by more than half, up 55 percent over that year’s levels, and, with that growth, the U.K. is the fourth largest market. If recent growth trends were to continue, within five years the U.K. would possibly match Japan’s size and become the third-largest.
GroupM stresses that it is difficult to bank on growth trends without much certainty around the relationship the U.K. will have with the rest of Europe or the health of its own economy over that time horizon.
Nevertheless, for 2020, GroupM forecasts 6.7-percent growth, to £24 billion ($31 billion). “While recognizing the aforementioned risks, we maintain an optimistic outlook on industry-level growth; after all, U.K. advertising has been so resilient in the face of so many challenges,” the firm says. The 6.7-percent forecast is an upward revision versus the June 2019 expectation of 4.6 percent during 2020.
The report predicts that digital advertising will continue to grow by double digits this year and next. Looking at specific media, it predicts digital pure-play media—excluding digital revenue associated with traditional media owners—will end this year 15-percent higher than 2018 levels. “Growth is still expected to be resilient next year, rising by 11 percent in our forecast,” the firm says. “In 2020, digital advertising will account for two-thirds of all media we track here. At such scale, further growth will necessarily converge toward the industry’s overall growth figures by 2024; this is the law of big numbers. We believe digital pure-play media owners will account for 73 percent of all advertising in the U.K. by 2024.”
Traditional TV advertising is forecast to be flat in 2020, “as the medium sustains tremendous value for marketers even as ‘TV’ evolves during an uncertain economic period,” says GroupM. The estimate is that television will be down by 2.3 percent this year but rebound closer to flat next year and in subsequent periods. “Few advertisers blame Brexit expressly, but it was a convenient explanation for 2019’s slow start and a useful alibi for continuing caution,” the report states. “As Brexit was delayed we saw money come back to the ad market, and we expect that to continue into 2020 as uncertainty means corporations will want to protect cash reserves. Pressure on budgets shows up most in big brand partnerships in TV and other media. Sponsorships still sell but are less contested, and the supporting activation—merchandising, content, talent—less elaborate. But we are seeing new-to-TV clients willing to exchange equity in the company for airtime value exchange.”