TUESDAY 26 OCT 2021 1:42 PM


The IPA Bellwether Report Q3 2021 reveals marketing budget growth is at its strongest in over four years, as the UK begins to recover from the pandemic. For comms teams looking to continue this digital growth in Q4, industry experts highlight the importance of data-based strategies to build agile and robust campaigns.

Total marketing expenditure has increased at its strongest rate in three years, with net growth of +12.8%. This correlates with an overall rise in industry optimism, with 37.5% of firms more positive about financial prospects than last quarter. Video comms are driving marketing spend, with budgets increasing by +12.6%. Online advertising is also up +10.6%, while audio is up +6.0%.

Phil Duffield, VP UK at The Trade Desk, says, “It’s really encouraging that marketing budgets are continuing to rise again, with video and online leading the way, highlighting the critical role our industry can play in powering the economic recovery. Agility and precision have never been more important.”

OOH budgets continued to see a reduction in spend, falling by a further -2.0% since Q2. As main media advertising was the best performing category in the third quarter, spending budgets for Q4 are likely to continue with a focus on digital channels.

Andrew Stephenson, Director of Marketing, EMEA, Treasure Data, says, “For many brands, this is uncharted territory; having seen their customer data sets increase tenfold during the pandemic, as shoppers shifted online. Now they require robust marketing strategies that will unlock seamless online and offline experiences for customers, as they return to stores.”

Overall optimism is on the rise with 37.5% of firms more positive about the financial prospects of their company. The Bellwether Report predicts high growth of 6.6% in 2021, and 6.2% in 2022, due to high consumer spending bounce back supported by vaccine uptake and a return to UK goods and services.

“It’s clear that the loosening of restrictions is having a positive impact on both last quarter’s budgets and forecasts into next year and beyond. However, some brands are understandably cautious, with ‘lingering uncertainties’, especially as we head into Christmas with ongoing supply chain issues,” says Matt Andrew, MD at data science consultancy, Ekimetrics.

The consensus among marketers and those offering insight into the Q3 findings, is the importance of data to build targeted, personal and tailored experiences for customers. “The key to beating uncertainty is agility, which must be supported by timely, robust and reliable data to enable confident decisions about where to focus spend, both strategically and tactically. Without data, agility may simply be flip-flopping based on gut feel. All businesses take punts, using data is about making sure they’re the right ones,” adds Andrew.