This Year Next Year: U.K. 2021 Mid-Year Forecast

Brian Wieser

24% growth in media ad revenue during 2021

Brexit and COVID headwinds held back growth in the first quarter as advertisers continued to make sense of a relatively uncertain economic environment. However, with the success of the U.K. vaccine programme and what appears to be relatively limited disruption caused by Brexit so far the economy is rebounding strongly.

As we reach the midway point of 2021, advertising growth for the year is far exceeding previous expectations, leading to a revision of our forecasts for this year and beyond. We now expect a 24% growth in media ad revenue during 2021, a marked improvement from our prior forecast.

We expect digital advertising to grow by 27% in 2021, building on last year’s 6% rate of expansion. At this pace of growth, digital will account for 77% of all advertising we track in our data set for the U.K. We also expect that, by 2026, digital advertising will continue to drive—and outpace—the overall market, accounting for 82% of the industry.

The outlook for television advertising in 2021 remains bullish, with advertising revenue growth having exceeded expectations, driven by the expected return of spend from advertisers in travel, non-essential retail and automotive. For 2021, we expect television advertising to grow by 13%, a full recovery from 2020’s 10.7% decline. The strength of recovery in television advertising revenue confirms the crucial role it continues to play for large advertisers looking to achieve the mass reach and brand-building goals for which TV is uniquely effective.

Beyond television and pure-play digital platforms, other media account for 9% of other activity in 2021. This figure will fall slightly through 2026 despite the growing importance of their digital extensions, such as podcasting, digital OOH and digital-only magazines and news publications. However, we emphasise that each of them can be highly effective for marketers who invest in engaging with consumers through these mediums.