Overall, during 2017, ad spend grew 4.6% to hit a record GBP22.2bn. It's worth noting that the momentum is certainly behind further records because fourth-quarter 2017 saw a 6% rise on the same period the year before. This means the UK has had its first quarter where ad expenditure topped GBP6bn.
With a World Cup airing this summer it is likely this increase will see that the current GBP22bn record has been exceeded. Indeed, AA/Warc have lifted their expectations for 2018 by 1.4% to a growth rate of 4.2%, with a further rise of 3.9% in 2019. If this happens, it will deliver what is believed to be the first decade of continual growth in ad spending ever.
As you can imagine, whenever these figures come out it is great news for digital -- particularly for mobile. In fact, mobile ad spend is up 37% on the year and is now hearing the 50% parity threshold with total internet advertising. So digital is doing well, the internet is up 14% on last year, and mobile is up 37%. It's familiar territory and speaks volumes about brands shifting budget to where consumer attention now lies.
There is one little snippet in there that probably won't get a lot of attention, but after years of consolidation in the radio industry, radio advertising is up 5%. Perhaps more interestingly -- and all part of the current narrative -- digital radio advertising is up 26% year-on-year. It's still only about a twentieth of overall ad revenue, but it shows a positive direction for travel at least.
And so we come back to print. My usual disclaimer applies. I learned journalism through magazines and newspapers, both national and regional -- so you cannot find anyone sadder to break the news -- but here we go.
Although national newspapers saw a 19% leap in digital revenues, overall ad revenues are down 5%. It's just a question of math. Digital is nowhere near the size of print, and so a decline in print wipes out any digital gains.
The story gets worse at the regional level. Again, digital is up by 9%, but overall ad revenue is down 13%. It's a similar story to the nationals, only more pronounced.
The real horror show comes with magazines. Overall ad sales are down 11.5% -- but so too is digital, with a 4% drop. What is even worse, overall revenue and digital revenue are both forecast to drop for the next couple of years. Although national and regional papers will see continued dips in ad revenue, they can at least grasp the good news that digital revenues are increasing while print staggers on with accumulating losses.
If there is still a local paper -- and more particularly so, a magazine that thinks the old days of selling copies to pay for production with ads putting the icing on the cake are still alive -- they seriously need to think again.
Each year these figures scream out at magazine owners to use their brand beyond a magazines. Several have heeded the call and put on events and festivals, while Country Living and Good Housekeeping stand out as those leading a charge to use a brand name to stick on third-party goods as a mark of approval.
When even digital advertising revenue is in decline, adding to print's woes, it really is time to think way beyond the newsagent's shelf and get the name working harder than ever.