UK ad market set to shrink by 8.9% in 2020

Strength of digital advertising will see UK market decline less than in other major European countries.

Cinema: expecting greatest decline in ad sales this year
Cinema: expecting greatest decline in ad sales this year

UK ad sales will decrease by 8.9% during 2020 to £20.5bn, according to IPG Mediabrands' latest Magna Global Ad Forecast.

The slump will come primarily from a drop in "linear" ad sales of 23% to £5.2bn, with TV down 17%, radio 24%, print 27%, out-of-home 28% and cinema, which has faced a total shutdown for the past three months, 55%. The figure of 23% compares with a 17% fall in 2009, previously the worst advertising recession on record.

But the strength of the UK's digital ad market will mean the overall decline is less marked than in the four other large markets of western Europe: Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

UK digital ad sales are expected to decline by around 3%, according to the report – in line with those of the other four countries. But the relative size of digital in the UK means that the total market decline – covering digital and linear – will be lower than in Germany (where the fall will be 10.5%), France (13.1%), Italy (14.5%) and Spain (14.3%).

Within UK digital advertising, social and digital video will continue to grow during 2020, according to Magna – in both cases by 6%. But search will fall by 5% and banner ads by 10%.

The outlook for 2021 is one of partial recuperation, although the UK market as a whole will remain smaller at the end of next year than it was at the end of 2019, with total growth in 2021 of 7.7%. Linear media will grow only 7% in 2021, leaving it substantially smaller.

Globally, ad sales this year are set to fall 7%, down $42bn (£33bn) to $540bn (£429bn). Linear ad sales will drop 16% to $238bn, with TV down 12%. But the value of digital advertising worldwide will be up 1% this year to $302bn.

Every region of the world will experience a decline in its advertising market this year, ranging from a 4.4% drop in North America to 10.3% in western Europe. All regions will rebound during 2021, although none of them sufficiently to overturn this year's decline. Of 12 of the world's largest economies, only India will see its ad market grow this year – although its growth of 2.3% is far lower than 2019's figure of 10.6%.

Vincent Létang, executive vice-president, global market intelligence, at Magna and author of the report, said the coronavirus pandemic would take a long-term toll on global advertising.

"Beyond the short-term, V-shaped recession/recovery impact on the economy and the advertising market, the Covid crisis will have global and long-term effects on society, business models, consumption habits, mobility and media usage – all factors pointing to a more subdued economic growth and advertising spend than previously forecast for the 2022-2024 period," he said.

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