LONDON: Marketing spend in the UK surged to a record high in the third quarter of 2013 and confidence among practitioners has reached unprecedented levels, according to new data from the industry's professional body.

The latest IPA Bellwether survey, which draws on insights from around 300 UK marketing companies, revealed a net balance of +12.3% of companies registering an increase in budgets over the quarter, up from the +7.3% recorded in Q2 2013.

That was a fourth consecutive reading above zero and the strongest rate of growth in nearly 13 years.

In further encouraging news, companies were very upbeat about their own financial prospects, registering a net balance of +49.2%, the highest level recorded in eight-and-a-half years.

As for the wider industry's financial prospects, the respective net balance of +35.4%, up from +6.1% in Q2 2013, was also a series record high.

"Marketing spend looks set to rise sharply as companies boost their budgets to an extent not seen in the 13-year history of the survey," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit and author of the report.

The fact that businesses are starting to spend in earnest again, he added, suggested the industry "may finally see a long awaited upturn in investment spending, which will help take the UK's recovery onto a more sustainable footing".

Budgets for the internet recorded a net balance of +11.7%, the highest of any category, and main media advertising witnessed a second successive period of growth with a net balance of +3.4%, its strongest since Q3 2010.

However, in a sign that companies are still taking a cautious approach to spending, other categories recorded net reductions.

These included direct marketing (-3.4%), events (-1.1%), market research (-3.0%), PR (-1.7%) and 'other' (-1.1%).

But with the latest survey results providing further evidence of the strengthening business climate in the UK, IPA general director Paul Bainsfair concluded that the survey "indicates that companies are beginning to move forward away from the recession and that the UK economy is on the rise again".

He expected this optimism would send a continued upbeat message to the advertising industry as well as the wider economy.

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff