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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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.


/ July 31st 2018
Advertising and the Economy


London, 31st July 2018: UK advertising spend in Q1 2018 rose 5.9% year-on-year to reach £5.7bn – the 19th consecutive quarter of market growth, according to Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report data published today. The figure is 1.3 percentage points (pp) ahead of forecast.

Further key findings from the report indicate:

  • Q1 2018 was the strongest first quarter in three years
  • Print display ad revenue for national newsbrands rose for the first time in seven years
  • Radio (+12.5%) recorded its strongest growth in four years, while internet (+10.8%), out of home (+5.3%) and TV (+5.0%) were all positive during the quarter

Adspend growth forecasts for this year and next have been upgraded, by 0.6pp to 4.8% and 0.7pp to 4.5% respectively. If proved correct, this would conclude a decade of continuous growth, and result in investment of over £24bn in 2019.

Search now accounts for almost three in ten pounds spent on advertising in the UK, a share which has risen 1.8pp over the last year. Spend on search advertising has grown consistently since monitoring began in 2001.

Display formats, which account for just under two-thirds of all adspend in the UK, recorded a rise in investment of 4.7% in Q1 2018 – on a par with the rate recorded in the final quarter of 2017. Excluding direct mail, spend on display formats rose 6.0%. This was the strongest sector growth since the final quarter of 2015.

 Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive at the Advertising Association said:

“Our latest advertising expenditure figures reflect the resilience of the wider UK economy, where consumer confidence is improved and the jobs market remains very strong. UK advertising continues to show steady growth with more businesses investing more spend in advertising. This investment boosts company profits and overall GDP, creates more jobs and helps our media sector to continue to invest in the creative content and technology that the public values.

“If Government can secure a good outcome from the Brexit negotiations and introduce a business-friendly immigration policy, we should continue to see sustained UK market growth and continued export success for advertising.”

James McDonald, Data Editor at WARC commented:

“The UK’s advertising market has now grown ahead of expectations in each of the last four quarters, and our projection for 2018 growth has been upgraded by a two percentage points since the start of the year on the back of sterling results across the media landscape.

“Online ad formats – particularly search and social media – continue to over perform, but traditional media are also proving their worth to advertisers. Notable among these are radio, TV, out of home and national newsbrands, with the latter carrying on from a good final quarter in 2017 to reverse a seven year downturn in display revenue.”

The Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report is the definitive measure of advertising activity in the UK. It is the only source that uses advertising expenditure gathered from across the entire media landscape, rather than relying on estimated or modelled data.


 Forecast summary


Adspend 2017 (£m) 2017 v 2016 Forecast 2018 Forecast 2019
% change % change % change
Internet 11,553 14.3% 9.8% 8.2%
  of which mobile 5,223 37.3% 22.5% 17.2%
TV 5,108 -3.2% 2.5% 3.3%
  of which broadcaster VoD 211 7.1% 11.8% 12.2%
Direct mail 1,753 0.8% -4.1% -3.8%
Out of home 1,144 1.5% 3.2% 2.6%
National newsbrands 1,032 -5.6% -1.3% -1.7%
  of which digital 275 19.3% 9.1% 11.1%
Regional newsbrands 887 -13.1% -7.9% -6.2%
  of which digital 212 9.9% 10.1% 6.5%
Magazine brands 776 -11.5% -8.2% -5.8%
  of which digital 271 -4.0% -3.8% 1.0%
Radio 679 5.2% 6.9% 4.4%
  of which digital ad formats 35 26.3% 24.6% 16.3%
Cinema 260 3.3% 4.3% 6.5%
TOTAL UK ADSPEND 22,190 4.6% 4.8% 4.5%
* 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, July 2018



 At-a-glance media summary

Q1 2018 v Q1 2017 Actual versus forecast
% change Percentage points (pp)
Internet 10.8% +0.9pp
  of which mobile 26.5% +4.3pp
TV 5.0% +2.1pp
  of which broadcaster VoD 11.9% +2.1pp
Direct mail -4.5% -0.5pp
Out of home 5.3% +3.2pp
National newsbrands -0.5% +4.6pp
  of which digital 2.9% -7.2pp
Regional newsbrands -9.3% +1.9pp
  of which digital 16.6% +11.6pp
Radio 12.5% +6.5pp
  of which digital ad formats 39.3% +11.8pp
Magazine brands -8.4% -0.4pp
  of which digital -4.5% -4.8pp
Cinema -12.8% -21.2pp
TOTAL UK ADSPEND 5.9% +1.3pp
* 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. Actual versus forecast compares media performance with projections made in April 2018. 

Source: AA/WARC Expenditure Report, July 2018

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