The growth in marketing spend in the UK continued to increase in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018, according to the latest IPA Bellwether figures, but the rate of 5% was the slowest in two years and down from 8.6% in Q4 2017.
Experiential marketing, however, blazed a trail being the only discipline to show increased investment with budgets growing 7.8% up 5.5% from the previous quarter.
This rise closed the gap on the strongest performing category of internet marketing, in which investment grew by 8.7%. This was down from the Q4 2017 figure and the lowest since the end of 2015.
Main media advertising, meanwhile, slipped into negative territory, falling from +1.7% in Q4 2017 to -2.1% in Q1 2018, the first time since Q3 2016 the net balance has been below zero.
Despite the muted expectations, The Bellwether Report noted the apparent resilience of the market and revised upwards its forecasts of adspend growth for the year just gone from 1.4% to 1.7%. It expects the rate of growth to drop sharply in 2018 (0.8%) and 2019 (0.4%), thanks to a combination of Brexit-related uncertainties and ongoing pressure on household finances which will restrain consumption.
Dr Paul Smith, Director at IHS Markit and author of the Bellwether Report, noted that despite the uncertainties and a loss of momentum since last summer “growth is being sustained meaning the longest bull-run in the survey history continues” – although he also observed that “the degree of optimism is the lowest in five years”.