Across the Pond... Digital Growth in the U.K. and the Impact of Brexit on Ad Spend

By: Annie Mero, Senior Manager, Marketing, Valassis Digital
Published Friday, Jan 27, 2017

Across the Pond... Digital Growth in the U.K. and the Impact of Brexit on Ad Spend

Last year was defined differently by many, but to the digital advertising world, 2016 was a year of accelerated success. There’s no denying that the growth of digital media, including display, mobile, video, social and content/native advertising, has remained omnipresent in the United States — but can that be said internationally?

Taking a particular interest in our friends across the Atlantic, I wondered about the impact of digital media in the United Kingdom as we look to advance our business abroad. Complete 2016 results have yet to be released, but we can gain a sense of overall performance from forecasted reports. Internet ad spend in the United Kingdom was predicted to grow in the double digits last year — surpassing 15 percent. Impressively, mobile internet advertising alone accounted for 45.6 percent.1 The graph from eMarketer below, shows the anticipated rise in digital ad spend through 2020. These encouraging stats reflect increasing consumer consumption of digital media, understanding the majority of social and search behavior is now occurring on mobile.


Surprisingly, the rise of digital media didn’t seem to be negatively impacted by the concern of Brexit on the economy. Brexit, the term coined from “Britain” and “exit” to define Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, brought speculation that overall ad spend would decrease due to the changing value of the euro. On the contrary, Brexit seems to have amplified digital ad spend, as digital vehicles often provide more precise reach and scale for less budget in comparison to traditional marketing tactics.2

As far as I can see, digital media in the United Kingdom shows no signs of slowing down. Although future uncertainty still remains, we can look to trending forecasts to actively prepare to meet United Kingdom market demands, which include chatbots, virtual assistants and personalized live streaming devices.3 Assuredly, it’s going to be an exciting 2017 and beyond.


Digital Strategy Consulting, Digital helps UK ad spend beat expectations (but Brexit cuts 2017 forecasts), The Advertising Association/Warc Expenditure report, 2016 

2 The Guardian, Brexit vote had negligible impact on advertising, says WPP, 2016

3 The Telegraph, Five useful trends to help digital marketers in 2017, 2016