The U.K. advertising market has experienced two completely opposed quarters so far this year. Record-breaking figures in Q1 were delivered thanks to a boost of ad dollars flowing around the 2015 general election.
The knock-on effect of election-related advertising helped television reach double-digit growth and pushed the total market up by 8%, which is in contrast to a slow-paced second quarter. SMI’s results show that the second quarter was relatively flat, and only due to the continued popularity of digital advertising did the market escape a larger drop than the -1.7% SMI recorded for the UK.
Another contributing factor to the television sector’s soft results was the absence of dollars invested around last year’s Football World Cup. The effect of event left a hole in the sector, which declined by -2.8% in Q2. On the flip side however, digital ad spend grew even more than expected by analysts and improved +12.3% when compared to the same period in 2014. Programmatic digital advertising (+18.1% growth) played a key role in digital’s overall growth as it grew nearly twice as fast as traditional direct placements, which rose by +9.3%.
Only the out of home market managed to come close to the performance of digital publishers, growing by +7.5% in Q2, thanks in part to the increasing impact of digital technologies in the outdoor space. The print market had yet another difficult quarter, as newspaper and magazines declined -27.8% and -17.7%, respectively, and radio showed a more moderate drop at -4%.
Despite the slowdown of ad investment in Q2, there is good reason to believe that the U.K. advertising market will end on a healthy note with solid growth in the pipeline. The market’s performance in Q1 topped the charts of all major European markets and, since SMI has a window into July and partial August data, we can see that the market is already attracting considerably stronger figures than in previous months. With the Rugby World Cup set to start in September, this major sports event should be a welcome boost especially for television media owners.
Hopefully, the forecast is bright and ad dollars around this event will lead the way to a healthy Christmas season, where digital is likely to keep breaking records and may finally reach 50% of total advertising investment in the UK.