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By Mobile UK

UK Advertising Exports Total £11.7bn for 2020 Despite Global Disruption

Advertising Association

5 min read Partner content

The advertising industry, with DIT support, sets out strategy review to negotiate future headwinds and secure next decade of growth

London, March 17, 2022: The Advertising Association has published its UK Advertising Exports Report 2022 showing that 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. 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, and in 2021 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 – with a significant gap between its nearest place competitor – 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 e-commerce, and the development of new international trade opportunities. This will inform the work the advertising industry undertakes, together with 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.

Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports, commented: “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.”

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 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.”

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association, 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. 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.”

Janet Hull, Chair of UKAEG, Member Creative Industries Council, and IPA Director of Marketing Strategy said: “The advertising industry is part of a £116 bn creative industries sector, and we are proud to drive its success on the world stage. Now more than ever we need to tell the story of UK advertising’s benefits to global partners and search out new channel and market opportunities in a review of our export strategy to best prepare us for the next decade of growth.”

Julian Douglas, International Chief Executive and Vice-Chairman of VCCP, IPA President and UKAEG member, said: “The creativity coming out of the UK is truly world class – and now is the time to capitalise on this success and secure a second decade of growth. I urge all companies looking to grow their international revenues to get involved in the Export Group and participate in UK House going forward.”

UKAEG Member Sentiment Analysis and Case Studies

As part of the report, Credos also conducted a sentiment analysis by polling a number of UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) members about their thoughts on export prospects. Members felt broadly positive about prospects for UK advertising exports and showed a strong belief in the UK’s status as an international advertising hub.

The UK Advertising Exports Report 2022 also featured case studies from UKAEG members. These focused on campaigns created either for overseas markets or clients and demonstrate the breadth of the UK’s expertise in advertising and marketing services.  

As part of the Export Month programme, an exclusive Export Report discussion will take place at the Carlton Club on March 29 with Digital Tories Parliamentary Patrons. Free registration for all events is open via


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