Q3 2019 Bellwether Report - Industry Reaction

Comments from agency leaders on the latest Bellwether data.

The Q3 2019 Bellwether Report saw marketing budgets were cut for the first time in seven years. Here's how the industry reacted.

Key points from the Q3 2019 Bellwether Report:

  • Slight contraction in total marketing budgets in Q3 as firms look to keep tight control over expenditure
  • Economic and political uncertainty lead to indecisiveness and hesitancy among UK businesses
  • Firms re-adjust budgets to allow sustained growth in digital marketing space
  • Own-company and industry-wide financial prospects remain deeply negative
  • Adspend to grow marginally in 2019, but improvements forecast for 2020 and beyond

Michelle Wright, Owner, Gough Bailey Wright and IPA Chair for England and Wales:

"It comes as no surprise that the latest Bellwether Report has seen marketing budgets slip into contraction. Businesses are continuing to take a very cautious approach to budget spending, holding back on projects amongst a sea of uncertainty in this unprecedented political time. Whilst it’s very encouraging to see anticipated growth in 2020, agencies and brands will need to weather the storm as this current climate continues."

Guy Vickerstaff, Creative Director, The&Partnership Edinburgh and IPA Chair for Scotland:

"An uncertain year for the economy stumbles along and unsurprisingly business confidence is subdued across the UK. This caution has impacted traditional or main media advertising with spend flatlining after signs of growth in Q1 and Q2. A rather disappointing sign in what is a vital aspect of long-term brand-building. One hopes that Q4 shows more encouraging signs as we head into the forecast improvements of 2020."

Valerie Ludlow, CEO, ASG & Partners and IPA Chair for Northern Ireland:

"Like many (agencies and clients alike) we find ourselves treading water in these unprecedented times. Unfortunately this situation is only going to continue whilst business operates with such high levels of industry; only when have a clear sense of what BREXIT real means (especially in Northern Ireland) can we get back to the business of planning and delivering effective campaigns that can support business in facing the challenges/opportunities that 2020 might present."

Patrick Reid, Group CEO, Imagination:

"As stressed in this report, Brexit and economic uncertainty are affecting all budgets and marketing spend. In these uncertain times, it’s therefore more important than ever that we create agile creative solutions to meet our clients' needs. It is, however, encouraging to see predicted growth levels in the ‘events’ category for 2020. Again this solidifies the power of experience to engage and inspire customers."

Tom George, UK CEO, GroupM and Chair of the IPA Media Futures Group:

"It’s no surprise that the third quarter Bellwether report shows little change in sentiment since its last publication. The uncertainty around the Brexit outcome continues and it appears that marketers remain cautious as regards the deployment of advertising budgets.

"The trend (albeit slowing) of growing internet investment is unsurprising but anecdotally, some of the ‘big ticket’ categories like television report a better than expected H2 - perhaps a growing recognition in the importance of long-term  brand-building investment as well as short-term performance investment.

"At GroupM we are still predicting a 6% growth in advertising expenditure for the year. A performance which can be regarded as healthy given the aforementioned economic uncertainty."

For additional information, please purchase the full Q3 2019 report (£99+VAT for IPA members, £140+VAT for non-members) that also has content detailing threats and opportunities facing marketers and their companies over the coming 12 months. The report includes charts comparing business confidence amongst survey panellists to wider economic output, which depicts how views on financial prospects are a function of the current business environment. Annual subscription is available by contacting economics@ihsmarkit.com

Access the full Bellwether Report Q3 2019