UK advertising exports rebound to pre-pandemic levels

Dark clouds on the horizon cited by the report authors include the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union

Britain’s advertising and marketing services exports have put the pandemic firmly in the rearview mirror after returning to levels last seen during a stellar 2019, before global disruption took its toll.

An Advertising Association Exports Report values the industry at £11.7bn in 2020, above the equivalent £11bn figure quoted in 2019, contributing a welcome £5bn trade surplus – behind only insurance and pension services (£20.7bn) and computer services (£12.9bn) in terms of narrowing UK plcs’ yawning trade deficit.

The largest destination for UK ad exports remains the US, which accounted for a £1.2bn chunk of the global total, ahead of Spain (£895m) and Germany (£877m).

Based on data provided by advertising think tank Credos and the Office for National Statistics, the psychologically-significant milestone has been welcomed by Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford, who said: “Despite the global disruption to trade caused by the pandemic, the UK advertising industry managed to maintain exports in 2020 at £11.7bn, a similar level to 2019. However, as the global economy recovers in 2021 and 2022, there are headwinds to overcome, from the effects of the pandemic on supply chains to high levels of inflation.”

Dark clouds on the horizon cited by the report authors include the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the lingering effects of lockdown and the evolving situation in Ukraine.

Despite these issues, UK Advertising Export Group members remain remarkably optimistic for their future prospects, founded on their confidence in the UK’s continued status as an international hub for the advertising industry.