Print vs. digital is a false dichotomy. Similarly, advertising vs. subscriptions is a distinction that needs to die. While we’ve argued that publishers need a healthy subscriptions base if they want to survive long-term, the truth is that advertising revenue is still a huge part of many publishers’ strategy, so we’re happy every time there’s an indication of green shoots in that area.

Happily the latest IPA Bellwether report, which forecasts ad spend and breaks it down by sector, foresees an overall 2.1 percent adspend increase for 2016 as a whole. Crucially it also sees main media advertising in the UK – spending on the forms of media that are described either as ‘legacy’ or ‘traditional’ media, receiving an increase in overall spend, with net balance rising from -3.8 percent to 5.1 percent in the third quarter. Even taking seasonal differences in ad-spend into account, that’s a positive result.

Of the results, the CCO of News UK Dom Carter, said:

“The Michael Fish moment has been well documented about how wrong the forecasters were about the economy post the referendum decision and It’s great to see that the great British public and business have turned a gloomy decision into a positive result. Clearly, there has to be caution as we approach the reality of Brexit and certainly consumer confidence will be impacted but the underlying business performance is still apparent.”

However, there’s a caveat. The word ‘Brexit’ might as well be superimposed over the results, with uncertainty around the thing (not helped by unelected UK prime minster Theresa May’s tone-deaf and grandiose statements on the matter) throwing off positivity in the markets for next year.

Paul Bainsfair, director general of IPA, said:

“After a year of well-publicised doom and gloom, Bellwether provides some welcome positive news. With marketers revising their budgets up yet again, the industry ends the year on a high. Furthermore, it is reassuring that despite the slight fall in adspend predicted by Bellwether in 2017 due to Brexit negotiations, growth is forecast for both 2016 and 2018.”

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-16-30-44.pngPredictably internet advertising is forecast to see growth, with a net 2.1 percent of all companies who responded to the survey noting that they were revising up their current budgets in that area. 

As we’ve written about fairly frequently over the past few months, that internet ad spend isn’t all going to the publishers who would benefit from it. In fact, though the focus on the Facebook – Google duopoly might have been overstated, there’s no doubt that the pair will be the main beneficiaries of any given increased ad spend online. 

But, in some unambiguously good news for publishers who are diversifying and trading off their reputation through live events, a net 12.3 percent of marketers increasing ad spend on live events. Whether that’s because of a perception that well-heeled Millennials are becoming habituated to live events, or because there’s a belief that events foster engagement in a way that can’t be replicated online, for any publisher investing in live events that has to be good news.


We’re in the business of talking about monetising media. As a big part of that we run events that enable publishers to teach each other paths for success and survival. Our upcoming flagship event Digital Media Strategies is taking part in London this February. For more information or to book a place, click here.

Image courtesy of Miemo Penttinen via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.