The Advertising Association promotes the role and rights of responsible advertising and its value to people, society, businesses and the economy. We represent UK advertisers, agencies and brands on behalf of the entire industry, acting as the connection between industry professionals and the politicians and policy-makers.


The Advertising Association focuses on major industry and policy areas that have huge ramifications on UK advertising. This section contains our work around Brexit, HFSS and gambling advertising, data and e-privacy, trust, the digital charter and our Industrial Strategy campaigns.

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Front Foot is our industry’s member network of over 50 businesses across UK advertising. It aims to promote the role of responsible advertising and its value to people, society and the economy through a coalition of senior leaders from advertisers, agencies and media owners.

We run a number of events throughout the year, from our annual LEAD summit to the Media Business Course and regular breakfast briefings for our members. We are also the official UK representative for the world’s biggest festival of creativity – Cannes Lions.


/ January 29th 2019
Advertising and the Economy

6% growth estimated for FY2018 adspend 

Further growth of 4.6% for FY2019 amid Brexit uncertainty

London, 28th January 2019: UK adspend rose 5.1% year-on-year to reach £5.6bn in Q3 2018, marking the 21st consecutive quarter of market growth and the industry’s strongest third quarter of the year since 2015. This record investment highlighted in today’s Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report underpins the preliminary estimate for 2018 adspend of £23.5bn – meaning the industry will have grown +6.0% year-on-year.

The positive figures come ahead of the Advertising Association’s LEAD summit on Wednesday (January 30th), which will look at the key themes of Trust, Trade & Transformation in the UK’s advertising industry. Predictions of 4.6% growth for UK advertising in 2019 come amid calls from the industry for a positive deal for business from Brexit negotiations with minimal disruption.

 Key headlines from the report show:

  • Q3 2018 was the 21st consecutive quarter of adspend market growth
  • UK adspend rose 5.1% year-on-year to reach £5.6bn in Q3 2018
  • The preliminary adspend estimate for 2018 remains at £23.5bn – meaning growth of +6.0% year-on-year
  • Q3 2018 saw the strongest third quarter growth since 2015 – the first nine months of 2018 also saw the strongest growth since 2015
  • Mobile saw a growth rate of 23.6% y-o-y in Q3, with overall internet growth at 12.3%

Overall market growth is being driven by increasing spend on online advertising, which is expected to grow 9.8% this year, following on from an estimated 13.4% rise in 2018.

In the individual formats, the positive story for digital was reflected across the board. Notably high growth was recorded for digital radio ad formats, with a year-on-year rise in Q3 of +25.1%, and in VoD TV at +11.5%. Regional digital newsbrands witnessed growth of +10.9%, with national digital newsbrands measuring +3.7% growth, and digital magazine brands +1.5%.

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association said:

“UK advertising continues to perform strongly, now delivering its twenty-first straight quarter of growth and demonstrating the commitment of British advertisers to investing in the growth and success of their businesses”

“As the clock ticks down to our departure from the EU, it is crucial the Government provides the certainty we are all seeking in business. We are predicting continued adspend growth of 4.6% in 2019 and an agreement with the EU that keeps disruption at a minimum and keeps trade and talent flowing will greatly help this growth. UK advertising is the best in the world and we need a deal that ensures we keep it that way.”

James McDonald, Data Editor at WARC commented:

“Our projection of 4.6% growth in the UK’s ad market this year is firmly based on a business-favourable outcome from the EU withdrawal agreement, and would mark a decade of continuous expansion since the last advertising recession.

“Further, a preliminary estimate of 6% growth in advertising investment last year represents a faster rate of expansion than was recorded in 2017, and is therefore indicative of an industry in rude heath. This is particularly true in relation to digital ad formats, all of which are currently forecast to attract higher levels of investment in 2019.”

Full-year forecast summary Adspend 2017 (£m) 2017 v 2016 Estimate 2018 Forecast 2019
% change % change % change
Internet* 11,553 14.3% 13.4% 9.8%
of which mobile 5,223 37.3% 27.3% 20.2%
TV 5,108 -3.2% 1.3% 0.4%
of which VoD 211 7.1% 12.1% 10.1%
Direct mail 1,700 -3.1% -8.0% -8.2%
Out of home 1,144 1.5% 4.2% 2.8%
National newsbrands 1,036 -5.3% -4.9% -2.3%
of which digital 275 19.3% 4.2% 8.1%
Regional newsbrands 887 -13.1% -7.5% -4.4%
of which digital 212 9.9% 11.6% 9.3%
Magazine brands 776 -11.5% -7.5% -6.2%
of which digital 271 -4.0% -1.2% 1.3%
Radio 679 5.2% 6.3% 4.8%
of which digital ad formats 35 26.3% 26.7% 15.9%
Cinema 258 2.3% -2.6% 5.2%
TOTAL UK ADSPEND 22,138 4.3% 6.0% 4.6%
* Broadcaster VoD, digital revenues for newsbrands and magazine brands, radio station websites and mobile advertising spend are also included within the internet total of £11,553m, so care should be taken to avoid double counting.
Source: AA/WARC Expenditure Report, January 2019


At-a-glance media summary – Q3 2018 Q3 2018 v Q3 2017 9M 2018 v 9M 2017
% change % change
Internet* 12.3% 14.0%
of which mobile 23.6% 27.9%
TV 0.1% 2.4%
of which VoD 11.5% 11.0%
Direct mail -14.0% -8.0%
Out of home 7.3% 4.7%
National newsbrands -7.1% -5.2%
of which digital 3.7% 3.4%
Regional newsbrands -5.3% -8.0%
of which digital 10.9% 12.9%
Magazine brands -2.8% -6.7%
of which digital 1.5% 1.3%
Radio 5.0% 6.4%
of which digital ad formats 25.1% 27.6%
Cinema -8.3% -8.0%
* Broadcaster VoD, digital revenues for newsbrands and magazine brands, radio station websites and mobile advertising spend are also included within the internet total, so care should be taken to avoid double counting.
Source: AA/WARC Expenditure Report, January 2019
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