Advertising Guest Columns
3 mins read

Global UK ad spend bounced back, but the industry is not out of the choppy waters yet

Also, what does it mean for creativity?

The disruption we’re facing in 2022 has led many to argue that this year is in fact ‘2020 too’. But whilst we may be experiencing some type of chaotic déjà vu, it’s clear that ad spend growth is not going to repeat the dramatic scenario experienced by UK advertisers during the peak of the pandemic.

The latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report figures on the UK ad market revealed “extraordinary” ad spend growth, with the 2021 ad market emerging £8bn larger than April 2020’s original forecast of £24bn set at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The £31.9bn spent on advertising in UK last year is a welcome sight for the industry. Across all channels we saw exciting growth promising better times ahead. But there were a few stars of the show that ran ahead of the pack. 

eCommerce emerged as the format the most popular for ad spend – with advertisers investing over £11.7bn in 2021, exceeding April 2020’s projection (made during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic) by over £3.7bn. Online video and social media also remained a safe bet for advertisers and a channel we hope to see grow even more in the future, with both overperforming by approximately £2bn and £2.3bn respectively. 

A positive outlook especially for video and online ad creation 

Despite the reigning uncertainty linked to the pandemic and geopolitical crisis, and brands responding initially with advertising campaigns aiming for short-term results, we’ve seen a shift back from marketers to long-term campaigns and heavier investment across their portfolios.

Looking at these revised figures from the latest AA/WARC Expenditure Report for the year 2021, it is evident advertisers are bolstering their confidence and looking to invest in channels and technology that add value.

These figures on ad spend bode well as we approach major advertising moments with the FIFA World Cup in late 2022. As the scramble for eyeballs begins, it will be a matter of doubling down on creative ways to inspire and connect with audiences, and investing further in the platforms and technologies that allow brands to reach them. 

At Creatopy, we have seen the demand for video and online ad formats soar this year, with an emphasis on short videos that made TikTok so popular with social media users, and this will only continue to grow as social media habits become ingrained and we enter the dawn of new channels with the likes of the Metaverse and Web 3.0. 

… but a bounce-back still fragile amid ongoing and future challenges

Although ad spend exceeding expectations across all formats in 2021 is a positive bounce-back from brands, advertisers are not out of the choppy waters just yet.

Currently, the cost of living crisis is upending consumers’ ability to spend, and is likely to be reflected in brand spend as downturn strategies start to come into action. More importantly, with a humanitarian crisis in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now is the time for brands to stand firm and invest in helping their consumers through the turmoil. It’s less about selling, and more about solving problems. 

This is also coupled with a new world of regulations and shifts that will directly affect how advertisers communicate. From HSFF regulation to the death of cookies, it is even more important for advertisers to reimagine the creative process.

What may seem as a restraint on creativity is in fact a catalyst to rethink the ways in which brands can find the right audience, and make even more meaningful connections. It’s about using creative ways to obtain data in a way that preserves privacy and transparency because trust is the most valuable asset brands and advertisers can acquire. 

And so, as confidence rebuilds, it’s a moment of opportunity to reset and map out ways in which growth can add value to the lives of people when they need it most. Understand what channels will reach the right audiences, and inspire new creative ways to deliver your message. 

Bogdan Carlescu
VP of Marketing at Creatopy

Creatopy is an ad design platform designed to reduce the time spent on repetitive processes.  Helping businesses customize, automate, and scale up their ad production and delivery.