IAS perspective on the IPA Bellwether Report

04/24 By Nick Morley
UK digital trends and predictions

The latest IPA Bellwether Report has launched, capturing data from the first quarter of 2020 and giving a perspective on digital trends. Potentially one of the most turbulent times for media and digital, the results were, unsurprisingly, very different to previous quarters. 

  • The impact of COVID-19 led to cuts to all forms of marketing activity in the UK, dropping 6.1% overall
  • A net balance of -6.1% of companies revised their total marketing budgets lower between 2nd – 27th March, a notable swing from the final quarter of 2019, where the net balance stood at 4%. In March, 25% of panel members recorded a budget cut and 18.9% signalled growth
  • However, whilst adspend was forecast to shrink for the remainder of 2020, a recovery next year is expected, with a net balance of +16.2% of respondents expecting higher spending over the next 12 months.

Nick Morley, managing director, EMEA, at Integral Ad Science, said in response to the data: 

“The Q1 2020 IPA Bellwether Report indicates an unsurprising downturn due to marketing budget cuts sparked by COVID-19. As an industry, we have a responsibility to support marketers in every sense: with empathy, support, thought leadership, data, guidance, and real solutions to problems. 

“It was positive to see the optimism within the IPA report regarding the UK economy, however, with many expecting a full recovery during the coming financial year. Now really is the time to pull together, work directly with industry bodies and governments to find solutions at a time where technology can be used for the greater good.”

What can you do?

  • Twice before pulling spend. The government themselves have deemed UK publishers as a fourth emergency service during this pandemic and it is important the whole digital ecosystem continues to support this industry area. 
  • Consider suitability. Throughout this contextually sensitive situation, keep brand safety and suitability at the forefront of your minds. Instead of a broad application of keyword blocking, take a more pragmatic approach, with the consideration that not all COVID-19 content should be deemed unsuitable. Check our COVID Brand Suitability Guide for the latest advice.
  • Contextual technology. Publishers should leverage technology that provides necessary page-level analysis of context and sentiment can minimise media wastage and maximise yield amid increased site traffic, ensuring that ads are matched and less likely to be blocked.