NEWS21 March 2022

UK advertising exports total £11.7bn in 2020

Media News Trends

UK – International trade in UK advertising and market research services was worth £11.7bn in 2020, sustaining the same level as the pre-pandemic conditions of 2019.

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Despite the challenges of a global lockdown faced by exporters in the UK advertising industry, balance of payments remained steady, bringing the UK a healthy £5bn trade surplus.

The figures are taken from an analysis by the advertising industry think tank, Credos, of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data shows advertising and market research services in third place among comparable industries in 2020, behind insurance and pension services (£20.7bn) and computer services (£12.9bn). 

The US remains the largest recipient of UK exports, receiving £1.2 billion worth of advertising and market research services, followed by Spain (£895m), then Germany (£877m).

UK advertising’s outreach to the global stage was bolstered by the promotional work of the UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT). Through UK House it has created more than half a million contact opportunities with potential customers from 40 countries since the first lockdown; in 2021 it generated £21m worth of new business for members.

Once again, the UK is second in the world for advertising services exports, ($13.6bn) with the US leading at nearly $22bn and Germany coming in third at $11.8bn, according to OECD data.

The report also sets out several global headwinds for consideration. As a result, the Export Group has announced it will be reviewing its export strategy for the decade ahead. It will ask key questions on the impact of the lockdown, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the rise of ecommerce, and the development of new international trade opportunities.

This will inform the work the advertising industry undertakes, together with the government, to build on its previous decade of growth and ensure the UK maintains its position as a world-leading hub for high quality advertising and marketing services.

“The advertising industry deserves recognition for its effort and hard work to maintain £11.7bn export revenue in 2020, a tremendous performance during such a challenging period”, commented Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports.

He added: “The advertising industry has been highly engaged, with the DIT teams based globally through its UK House programme, as well as in developing the UKAEG’s own search-and-selection tool for international clients. These are a great platform to promote advertising’s ability to drive export sales and DIT will continue to provide sector and market specific support to innovative companies to help them grow internationally.”

Advertising Association chief executive Stephen Woodford added: “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.

“This year’s UK Advertising Exports Report sets out a clarion call for our industry and government to redouble the work together to achieve higher levels of exports, with all the benefits for jobs, growth and international cooperation these bring.”