Smartphones are the main driving force behind *this as people increasingly use them for activities they used to do on desktop computers, from searching and shopping to social and watching video. – Tim Elkington, chief strategy officer at IAB UK

*the rise in digital ad spend of 16.4%

Time to check out the final 2015 stats for UK ad spend to reveal which media are winning the battle to capture sizeable share of the advertising cake. The stats will also answer the question, still asked by many advertisers, “is digital really that big now?”

And so to general spend figures first of all. The increase of 7.5% on 2014 is the fastest rate of growth in five years and comes despite the economic situation. Or perhaps the increase is due to the stuttering economy as advertisers invest budget into media which can offer an immediate statistic, demonstrate interest by click thru rates, or can log sales online? Whatever the reason, investment in advertising has increased markedly in the past five years.

How is the £20.1 billion (which represents just under £309 per person spent on advertising, the highest figure of any G7 country) shared out between the media channels?



Internet spend clocks in at £8.6bn (up 17.3% on 2014).  Of this, mobile accounts for £2.6bn, an increase of 61% on 2014; and video advertising (see earlier comment Strong growth for video in 2016) spend rose by 51% to £711m.  Social media spend on paid for posts increased by 45% to £1.25m, while native and branded ad spend rose by 50% to £776m.

TV spend was up 7.3% on 2014, at £5.3bn.  90% of this is airtime expenditure – spots – which rose 6.7%, while VOD accounts for only £175m, but rose 21% yoy.

Direct Mail recorded £1.9bn spend, up marginally year on year by 1.4%.

Print – Local & Mags had £1.4bn recorded for that sector, which is 9% down year on year, and includes any associated digital spend.

Out of Home investment stood at £1.1bn, up a healthy 3.9% year on year.

Print – UK wide has taken a drop of 13.4% year on year to £1bn.

Radio spend stands at £592m for 2015, up 2.9%.

Cinema recorded a very high jump of 21% year on year, to £238m.

It’s clear that internet ad spend is driving the overall increase, with even the work-horse of display advertising contributing growth of 24.5% to £3.03bn, and this is against an unsettled background for display ads, caused by the increasing use of ad blockers (see earlier comment Ad blocking – “adpocalypse”?).

While other media have enjoyed increased spend year on year, with Cinema’s 21% rise worth noting due to Star Wars and James Bond, why this surge in growth for digital spend in particular?  Follow the money. There is an average of 8.3 internet connected devices in each UK home now, and consequently we are spending more time online and advertisers are seeking us out.

Compare and contrast with Print advertising. This spend includes digital with newspapers, but even with that, it can’t offset the revenue moving away from that medium and the reduction in share.

Sources: WARC/ IAB