LONDON: UK marketing budgets increased at an accelerated pace in the first quarter of the year, according to a new report which also says the overall growth registered during the 2014/15 budget year was the best in a decade.

The Q1 2015 IPA Bellwether Report, researched and published by Markit Economics on behalf of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and based on original data drawn from a panel of around 300 UK marketing professionals, revealed that budgets rose for the tenth successive quarter.

A net balance +11.8% of companies registered an increase in budgets during the quarter, almost twice the +6.1% figure of the previous quarter and almost back to the levels seen in Q3 2014.

Overall growth for the 2014/15 budget year was the best recorded since 2004/05 with a net balance of +21.8% of companies indicating that budgets had risen over the 12-month period.

The highest upwards revisions to marketing budgets in Q1 2015 were made to internet, recording a net balance of +8.4%. Events budgets were also revised higher, recording a net balance of +5.7%, as were direct marketing (+5.5%) and main media advertising (+2.9%). 

Sales promotions was only just in positive territory (+0.6%) while 'other' (-7.1%), PR (-1.8%) and market research (-1.3%) all recorded downward revisions.

"While many commentators await to see what form Britain's post-election economic landscape takes, marketing executives seem to be shrugging off any uncertainty," remarked Paul Smith, senior economist at Markit and author of the report.

The outlook for the coming budget year appears equally positive, with a net balance of +28.0% of panellists forecasting an increase in their marketing budgets relative to 2014/15.

This is the most upbeat assessment signalled by the panel for eight years, according to the IPA, and all Bellwether categories are forecast to gain, with events and main media advertising predicted to be the greatest beneficiaries.

Overall, the Bellwether survey predicted a real-term increase in UK adspend of +4.2% in 2015 before growth cools slightly in 2016 to +3.6%.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff