Digital ad spend in UK hits record high – Will this trend continue?

In 2016, digital ad spending in the UK increased by 17%, reaching £10.3 billion. This is the fastest growth rate for the industry in nine years and it marks the seventh consecutive year of market growth. Up until now, the UK has never spent so much on digital advertisement, so what’s fuelling the digital industry’s record-breaking high?

The increasing investments into mobile video is clearly the main driving force of the growth, as marketers and advertisers look to capitalise on the power of video – this, paired with the fact that almost half of all UK internet time is now spent on smartphones. In total, mobile investment accounts for 38% of all digital ad spend in the UK.
The rise of the video-content-for-mobile makes sense. YouGov data shows that in the last six months, 54% of people in the UK watched video clips on their smartphone. Furthermore, a sizable percentage of those people watch video clips on their phones regularly, if not daily. It may seem like digital ad spend is completely taking over, but traditional ad spending is still holding out, particularly on TV. Over the last decade, TV ad spending has held a steady overall market share of 25%.

While UK ad spending overall is strong, it’s the digital budgets that are the most impressive. Video content is the future of marketing, with brands looking to create more innovative content and taking advantage of new technical and social possibilities to inspire and entertain audiences. The growth also comes in the aftermath of YouTube’s problem with transparency and brand safety. So, we can expect to see a greater focus on promoting greater transparency and ensuring ads are showing up on relevant channels as we enter the near future.


Brexit clearly hasn’t impacted UK ad spend, but there are still questions over whether this trend will continue. Overall ad spend in Britain is expected to grow over the next two years, but at a slower rate.  The bottom line: Advertising has shown strength at times of uncertainty. Combine this with the increasing possibilities and appetite for mobile-based video content, and you’ve got the recipe for digital advertising pushing on (and on) –  accounting for more and more of the UK’s ad spend in years to come.


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