Q3 2023 Bellwether Report

Upward revisions to main media budgets drive total UK marketing budget growth in Q3 2023

The IPA Bellwether Report is a quarterly survey outlining companies’ marketing spend intentions and financial confidence.

The Bellwether Report is researched and published by S&P Global on behalf of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. The report features original data drawn from a panel of around 300 UK marketing professionals and provides a key indicator of the health of the economy. The survey panel has been carefully selected to represent all key business sectors, drawn primarily from the nation’s top 1000 companies.

Key findings from the Q3 2023 Bellwether Report:

  • Efforts to protect brands and capitalise on competitor hesitancy supported budget expansions in Q3, although total marketing spend growth slowed slightly.
  • Main media marketing budgets rise at the strongest pace since Q1 2021, driving overall upturn.
  • Industry-wide business confidence remains depressed amid gloomy economic outlook, but confidence edges slightly higher for company-own prospects.
  • Adspend set to fall in real terms until 2024 as UK economy poised for recession.

Commenting on the latest survey, IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair said:

"Against a backdrop of economic stagnation and ongoing elevated levels of inflation in the UK, coupled with increasing global geo-political volatility, the trading environment for companies is unquestionably tough. But instead of seeing a re-run of last quarter’s slightly concerning results where companies revised up their short-term sales promotional activity to record amounts while reducing their main media spend, this time we are buoyed to see a more considered, reverse state of affairs.

"This quarter, those companies that can are heeding the evidence that in general, investing more in main media will help to steady them through the uncertain times and help to ensure the longer-term health and profitability of their brands. Crucially, they – alongside the many investment analysts we have also recently surveyed - are recognising that marketing spend is indeed an investment not a cost."