UK adspend rose 6.3% year-on-year to reach £23.6bn in 2018, according to the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report, with further growth predicted for this year and next.

This marks a record level of investment, and with spending forecast to grow 4.8% in 2019 and 5.5% in 2020, this would push the market's value to over £26bn, completing more than a decade of continuous expansion for the UK advertising industry. (Subscribers can access the full report here.) 

The figures showed the strength and resilience of the UK advertising industry in the face of current political and economic uncertainties, said Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association.

“Like all UK industries, we hope to see a positive resolution of the Brexit situation, with business-friendly data, immigration and trade outcomes that could further boost this forecast growth,” he added.

Overall market growth is being driven by increasing spend on search (up 14.3% to £6,656m) and online display advertising (up 21.4% to £5,332m), with further, but milder, growth predicted for 2019 and 2020.

The positive story for online ad formats was reflected across a number of media. Notably high growth was recorded for online radio ad formats, with a year-on-year rise in 2018 of 30.6%. Ad investment in broadcaster video-on-demand (VoD) rose 29.4% to reach £391m, while regional online newsbrands recorded growth of 7.6%.

Radio was also one of only the two traditional formats to register any significant growth, at 5.0%; the other was out of home spending, up 5.7%, with digital OOH spending 14.7% ahead. Print media continued to decline, while TV was flat.

James McDonald, Managing Editor at WARC commented: “Despite most traditional media being stagnant or in decline, the UK’s ad market expanded at its strongest rate since 2015 last year, and the growth is primarily being driven by rapidly rising investment in paid search and online display formats, particularly social media and online video.

“These online components account for just over half of UK advertising spend today, and both are almost entirely data-driven, enabling advertisers to pair their messaging with internet users based on their digital footprint. These tools are also accessible, enabling a long-tail of SMEs to invest, and this has transformed the DNA of advertising in recent years.”

Sourced from WARC, Advertising Association