Latest data for UK advertising shows digital, online and mobile formats have driven record first-half spending, while traditional print remains steady despite decline.
The Advertising Association and Warc Expenditure Report reveals quarterly UK advertising spend on direct mail, magazines, regional and national news titles, out-of-home signage, radio and television and gives forecasts for the coming two years.
The latest figures show total advertising spend across the formats in H1 2016 was higher than forecast, up 5.2% to £9.9bn, while expenditure growth forecasted for the full year has been upgraded one percentage point to 5.2%.
The figures show a 17% increase in internet advertising spend, including a massive 53% jump in mobile adspend, as well as a 30% boost in digital out-of-home advertising spend.
Conversely the figures for print continued to reflect decline, with national and regional newsbrand adspend dropping 9.2% (to £218m) in Q2 and 13.2% (to £214m) respectively and a decrease of 7.7% to £300m for printed magazine ads in the six months to July.
Printed out-of-home (OOH) advertising, meanwhile was up 0.6% in Q2 compared with the previous quarter to £177m, although in a year-on-year annual comparison it was down 1.8%.
Spend on direct mail, which had held steady between 2014 and 2015, was down 13.3% in Q2 this year and Warc is forecasting decreases of 10.6% and 7.3% for the full years 2016 and 2017 respectively, as the fallout from the Brexit vote is anticipated.
Despite these figures, Warc senior data analyst James McDonald said print is holding its own in the overall mix.
“Some of the core print advertising business, like recruitment and property advertising, has been eaten up by digital specialists because there are now more players in the market, and that has been quite difficult, but print still brings its own element of reach and effectiveness and that is encouraging.”
McDonald said that OOH print (any printed advertising, such as billboards and POS, encountered out of the home) had been particularly resilient.
He explained: “It was definitely soft in the second quarter and whether or not that can be tied to the referendum, we aren’t sure. Certainly we had a big football tournament during the period and that would usually result in a lift in OOH advertising, but that wasn’t seen this time. So I think what that shows is that in difficult circumstances traditional OOH is standing up pretty well.”
McDonald said that within the direct mail segment, the majority of spending contraction was seen among SMEs but he said despite the forecast for continued contraction in 2017, he would expect some stabilisation to eventually follow.
“DM itself is still one of largest ad channels in the UK and continues to bring in well above £1bn annually.
"From a national newsbrand perspective, print in the second quarter was down around 9.2%, which makes you wince a bit, but it’s actually far softer than the average decline of around 15.2%, which we’ve witnessed over the last four quarters and that signifies some easing up in the process,” he said, adding that the 5% decline seen in printed consumer magazine advertising in H1 was also far “softer” than average figures.
“I think these figures show us that these titles are adapting somewhat to challenging circumstances,” he said.
“Although we don’t forecast it to happen this year or next, I believe we’ll see a leveling off of the decline in print advertising. Print is still a proven format and a lot of advertisers use it as part of their marketing mix,” McDonald added.
Print consultant Matthew Parker, director of Profitable Print Relationships, said he suspected it was pricing rather than volumes that was enabling direct mail to hold its own in the print marketing mix.
“There is a certainly a trend for direct mail to be used more intelligently as part of a multi-channel campaign. People are being much more segmented in their thinking and there is much more personalisation going on so there is more spend on the individual pieces going on, I would also expect that people want better quality, which also costs more," he said.
Parker also says that printed OOH ad spend is most likely being held up by POS work. “Print is so good at driving POS opportunities, so people are being more clever with it, which costs more, and retailers are having to change their displays more often as well.”