UK ad spend goes into the red

The internet was the only one of the UK’s seven other advertising sectors not to fall into the red last year and push the market, like the economy, into a recession.

Reported figures for the UK from the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), reveal spending on online adverts in 2008 was up 17.3 per cent on the previous year.

But the internet’s gains failed to halt a decline in the total spent on UK advertising for the year of 3.9 per cent, felt most sharply by print media in the final quarter.

“The fourth quarter was the worst of the year, and was tied in with the recession,” Colin Mead, a director at WARC told the Independent, which obtained the figures.

“It was a sharp turnaround. The quarter is comparable to the levels seen in the economic downturn of 1991.”

In line with WPP’s chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, who sees this year’s second-half as looking brighter than its first, Mead said ad spend “should pick up” by the end of 2009.

Yet he said spending on adverts might “go down sharply again” before then, and, similarly, Sir Martin has said this year’s first six months will be “very difficult” worldwide.

Such difficulties are most visible today at newspapers where, according to the WARC figures, advertising spending is falling faster than any other sector.

While the sector still retained the largest share of spending - about a quarter of the total expenditure - its ad market shrunk by 12 per cent in 2008.

Its worst moment of the year came in the final three months, when advertising revenues plunged 18.9 per cent, while magazines fared worse; down 19.2 per cent.

Over the same period, television advertising fell by 4.9 per cent, while radio advertising fell by 8.5 per cent, and proved less resilient than direct mail, down 6 per cent.

Even the reliably buoyant internet was kept in check by more cautious advertisers, as its revenues, while still climbing, eased from their growth rate of 39.5 per cent in 2006.


19th March 2009

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