Q4 2019 Bellwether Report - Industry Reaction

Comments from agency leaders on the latest Bellwether data.

Marketing budgets returned to positive territory in Q4 2019 as political uncertainty eased. Here's how the industry reacted.

Key findings from the Q4 2019 survey:

  • Total marketing budgets increase for first time since Q1 2019
  • Initial budget plans for 2020/21 show bullish expectations, with strong growth in total marketing budgets expected as uncertainties diminish
  • Internet marketing continues to outperform as businesses invest in online tools to bolster digital presence
  • Own-company financial prospects move into positive territory for first time in over a year
  • Adspend expected to improve in 2020 and beyond as business cycle recovers from current soft spell

England & Wales – Michelle Wright, Company Director, Gough Bailey Wright and IPA Chair for England & Wales:

"It’s hopeful to see what appears to be the first signs of a brighter outlook for our industry. The release in marketing budgets and good predictions for 2020 and beyond will build further confidence, and I am optimistic to see how this plays out over the first half of 2020. The signs are encouraging, but I would expect businesses to remain somewhat cautious for a while yet."

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

"After a period of stagnation it’s a relief to see total marketing budgets finally bounce back in 2019. And to see respondents registering optimism for their own company’s growth in 2020/21, the first time since Q3 2018, is extremely encouraging.
Internet advertising spend remains strong and I’m pleased to note the +6.3% upswing of companies projecting greater spending on big ticket advertising for the year ahead. The general election result brought an end to an extended period of uncertainty and ambiguity, budgets having been put on hold in 2019, now look like being released with bullish expectations in 2020."

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

"The latest Bellwether Report reveals a more upbeat assessment of business and marketing spend as we enter 2020. What is needed now is for the confidence that lead to the Q4 increases in budget to be maintained through an organised Brexit strategy, stabilised parliamentary situation and real actions for the newly reinstated NI assembly."

James Goddard, CEO, Gravity Global - Oxford:

"After an especially tough and uncertain 2019, leading to client hesitancy and delayed decision making, the modest increase in marketing budgets identified in the fourth quarter Bellwether survey is extremely welcome news. And, whilst digital / online continues to lead the way, the increasingly blurred lines between the marketing disciplines - from PR and events to direct marketing and sales promotion - makes it likely that all will benefit, directly or indirectly, from the predicted budget growth. This post-election ‘Boris bounce’, reflecting this increased confidence and sense of certainty, has also resulted in more bullish expectations for the longer term … let’s just hope it lasts."

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

"The uncertainty surrounding Brexit seems to have done little to supress a relatively buoyant UK advertising market with main media advertising experiencing a 7.8% growth according to the latest GroupM UK forecasts.
Whilst the latest Bellwether report indicates a relatively flat net balance for the Q4 2019, our experience at the back end of the year pointed to increased confidence in advertisers and this translated into budgets.
For 2020, we now have a majority government. We know that businesses welcome greater political and economic certainty and we believe that this will lead to advertising budget growth in 2020 a percentage point behind that witnessed in 2019.
Pure play internet continues to grow ahead of the main media (we predict 11% versus 2019) but it’s interesting to note how investment by these technology companies into the traditional channels is driving growth in the UK market. At GroupM we are predicting that TV will match its 2019 performance and that radio, cinema and outdoor will deliver further single digit growth in 2020."

For additional information, please purchase the full Q4 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

Buy the Q4 2019 Bellwether Report
Last updated 21 January 2022