AA/WARC and IAB UK adspend figures released this week

A new report – UK Advertising’s Adspend Review: The Pandemic Effect – has been published today alongside the definitive full year 2021 Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report figures, which show the extraordinary adspend growth seen during the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK ad market reached a record £31.9bn in 2021, equating to growth of 34.3% year-on-year. The latest AA/WARC full year figures reveal the 2021 ad market emerged £8bn larger than April 2020’s original forecast of £24bn set at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This growth is in part due to inflationary pressures on the cost of advertising but also a higher-than-expected growth in key forms of online advertising during the past year.

On Tuesday, the IAB UK’s Digital Adspend report for 2021 was also launched. The full-year Digital Adspend report for 2021 shows that the digital advertising market saw its biggest full year growth for 15 years last year, with investment up 41% year-on-year to £23.5 billion. The report, which is conducted with PwC, shows that 2021 spend was also up 50% on 2019, the last full year in which the pandemic did not have an impact on activity.

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA, said of the two reports: “Whilst it’s encouraging to see such a strong recovery in spending, the real story for advertisers is massive inflation. Audiences and consumer spending are not keeping pace with spend growth, and in some cases audiences are going backwards. While there is clearly a big adjustment to come in 2022, this market bubble has only added to the headwinds for advertisers in growing their businesses and brands.”