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Advertising fuels UK economy

News, 25 April 2016

LONDON: The UK advertising industry is projected to make a contribution of £4.7bn to national exports and this is expected to rise 54% over the next five years, representing growth of £2.5bn, according to the Advertising Association (AA).

The UK trade body announced the forecast – based on data from the Office of National Statistics – in a new report at last week's Advertising Week Europe event.

The report, "Advertising Pays 4: the export and global impact of UK advertising", also noted that the UK's balance of payments for advertising-related services is the highest in Europe at £1.6bn, or second globally only to the US (£2.7bn) and five times the French figure (£327m).

The AA has now followed up its initial report with further research to emphasise the importance of advertising to the wider UK economy, including its role in securing jobs and unlocking growth.

For example, the AA said a total of 550,000 jobs in the UK depend on advertising, with 268,000 working on the client side and in agencies.

But importantly, 83,000 other jobs are supported by revenue from advertising, as are another 200,000 jobs across the wider economy.

The AA also revealed that every £1 spent on advertising benefits a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) up to 8x as much as a larger firm.

With SMEs accounting for 99% of companies in the UK, but just 18% of UK adspend, the AA said this showed how advertising could help to unlock the UK's growth potential.

Advertising's contribution to UK exports is another key element of the industry's value. Based on published ONS data covering 2014, annual UK exports of advertising services are worth £4.1bn a year (i.e. lower than the projection for 2016).

Again based on ONS data from 2014, the growth of advertising exports is significantly outstripping the rest of the economy at 12.7% versus 4.5%. In addition, the UK's balance of payments surplus for advertising, at £1.6bn, is the biggest in Europe.

But business is not the only area where advertising makes a positive contribution because the AA also pointed to its role in wider society.

A road safety campaign created for the Department for Transport, for example, is estimated to have saved more than 3,000 lives between 2000 and 2008, while a stroke awareness campaign for the Department of Health is calculated to have generated £26m of value to society in just one year.

Data sourced from Advertising Association; additional content by Warc staff