Adland's clean bill of health needs a second opinion
A view from Maisie McCabe

Adland's clean bill of health needs a second opinion

I was a bit despondent about our economic prospects last week. Then, right on cue, we learned on Tuesday that UK advertising spend hit a record high in the first half of 2015.

According to the Advertising Association and Warc, ad expenditure was £9.42 billion in the first half of 2015, up an undeniably healthy 5.8 per cent year on year.

Now, I can handle being wrong if it means a better life for us all. I’m altruistic like that. But were my doubts really unfounded?

The press release discussing the first quarter of 2015 made a big deal of forecasting adspend growth upwards.

But this latest one did not mention how the figures compared with those projected three months earlier, which made me suspicious. And I was right to be. In July, the AA expected adspend to climb by 6.2 per cent in 2015.

Despite the miserable performance of the home nations in the Rugby World Cup (I’m not sure if I’m over the Scotland game yet) and the below-par ratings achieved by The X Factor, TV is holding strong. And the AA has actually increased its forecast for TV adspend from 6.9 per cent three months ago to 7.1 per cent now. Unsurprisingly, internet adspend growth has been revised upwards too.

Given the mixed picture, it’s even more important to applaud the great work being created to get ad revenue in

But there was much less welcome news for all other media. Radio’s forecast 4.3 per cent growth in July has fallen to 2.3 per cent, out-of-home has slipped from 6.3 per cent to 3.8 per cent and cinema is down from 6.4 per cent to 5.1 per cent. The AA also steepened the projected declines among the sectors expected to contract this year (national press, regional press and magazines).

Yes, they are experiencing growth in their digital businesses, but most publishers still have a long way to go before revenue from the internet makes up for losses elsewhere.

But that’s a rather gloomy way to look at the numbers. Another way would be to view the overall ad market’s expected 6 per cent growth, on top of a record year in 2014, as a cause for celebration. If offered a climb of 6 per cent last year, I’d probably have taken it. And we’re still up on the April figures.

So it’s not all bad news. But given the mixed picture, it’s even more important to applaud the great work being created to get ad revenue in the door.

Conveniently, at Grosvenor House this evening, we will be celebrating all the imaginative things that media companies are doing at the Media Week Awards. The big ideas, the collaborations and the rising stars, as well as the best agencies and sales teams. The room will be packed, with 1,400 people from across the industry squeezed into the Great Room. Good luck to those of you who are shortlisted and, if you’re not, have fun anyway. It should be a good night.