UK Ad Growth Figures Hide Print's Alarming Demise

There are two inescapable conclusions from today's release of GroupM figures showing a growth rate of 7.8% in UK ad spending this year followed by a 6.7% uptick in 2020.

The first is the very obvious point about growth. GroupM has updated its predictions for this year and next -- and so there is a "Brexit, what Brexit?" angle in there. However, looking at its excellent report, there is clearly a lot more in there than the headline figures -- and it's not great news for print. 

This year, newspaper brands are set to see ad revenues decline 8.8%, and magazines share an even worse fate at 10.4%. This goes down to a 7% and 9% decrease, respectively, in 2020.

Television is due to lose 2.3% this year before flatlining in 2020 and then moving back into modest growth for the next few years.

So while television losing money will hit the headlines, it's due to recover. It's print -- particularly regional news and consumer magazines -- that needs to be concerned. 

This brings us to what I believe are the statistics that really show how digital advertising has impacted print.

Internet pure-play -- as GroupM calls it to clarify that we are talking about online advertising beyond the traditional news and tv media owners -- is due to grow again at 15% this year.

At 63% of all advertising, it accounts for nearly two in every three pounds spent on advertising in the UK this year. 

The sudden rise of digital means that -- wait for it -- in just four years the share of the overall advertising pot going to print has halved, from 12% in 2015 to 6% in 2019 for news brands and from nearly 5% to 2.5% for magazines. 

Meanwhile, outdoor and cinema have remained relatively stable at around 5% and 1%, respectively, of the total advertising pot. Radio has followed suit by hovering above or just under the 3% level for the past few years. 

I have to be honest -- I have never seen a set of figures that so clearly outlines how digital adverting, or online pure-play as GroupM calls it, has smashed news brands and magazine print advertising. Both have halved their share of the overall UK advertising pot in just four years. 

The really worrisome point is that it will happen again. Over the next five years, GroupM predicts those overall shares will again be halved until newspaper brands account for 3% and magazines just 1% in 2024. 

Stepping back -- and taking a macro view over the past ten years -- means each print channel will account for a sixth of the overall share of UK ad spend in 2024 as it did in 2014. 

So, the overall positive picture of growth in 2019 and 2020 will be widely reported. These other insights into the demise of print will not. For me, they are just as worthy of drawing attention to, as sad as the conclusion may be. 

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