Festive advertising blitz is an early Christmas present for media sector

That is a huge recovery from the height of the pandemic when total ad spend fell 23pc in July, as companies slashed budgets to protect their cash. 

The rebound was prompted by businesses loosening the purse strings, from consumer goods and supermarkets, to telecoms and publishing.

The UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster also appeared to shrug off the second national lockdown by predicting a 6pc jump in advertising revenue in November. 

But while the rebound is encouraging, uncertainty remains. 

Before the pandemic, ITV had a clearer idea of how much money it would make because advertisers would book months in advance. 

That line of sight has been skewed by the Covid crisis. Advertisers are spending again, but few are willing to booking into the New Year. 

Those jitters could also be stoked by Brexit. Crunch moments surrounding Britain’s EU exit had a tendency to rattle the advertising market. 

A dearth of advertising from the travel industry, which continues to suffer at the hands of the pandemic, could also hamper ad spend in the first three months of the year. 

But while threats remain, forecasters are still predicting a swing to growth in 2021. 

GroupM, the media buying agency owned by WPP, expects the UK advertising market to grow by 13pc next year after falling by 13pc in 2020. 

Brian Weiser, GroupM’s global president of business intelligence, says the recovery is being prompted by advertisers adjusting to the pandemic. 

“The market is improving,” he says. “Uncertainty relating to Brexit will have an impact. Some marketers have held back their budgets and flushed them away. Others also have concerns over the current UK lockdown, which could also be a potential drag. 

“But the UK is more like the American market, where the vast majority of marketers have figured out how to operate [in the pandemic]. 

“There are some areas like the travel industry, where if they cannot operate then they are not going to spend money. 

“But then no one is now counting on that money and you also have the offset from government spending on advertising.”

Come the turn of 2021, the media sector will have a clearer idea of whether the Christmas ad blitz can prompt a return to normality. 

British soul singer Celeste urges everyone to “give a little love” with her song for this year’s John Lewis advert. 

The media industry will be hoping it is a tune that sticks in advertisers’ minds when they draw up their budgets for the New Year and beyond. 

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