GroupM Raises U.K. Ad Forecast, Calls Short-Term Impact of Brexit Vote "Negligible"

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"The effect of the future EU exit on the U.K. economy is unknown," says Adam Smith, futures director at GroupM. "To our own surprise, we are revising U.K. advertising growth up."

U.K. advertising spending will see its eighth successive year of growth in 2016 "despite the short-term effect of the EU referendum," advertising conglomerate WPP's GroupM, a media investment management firm, predicts.

It has boosted its full-year ad growth forecast from 6.3 percent to 7.2 percent, plus from 5.8 percent to 7.2 percent for 2017, despite the Brexit vote in June.

"This increase in spending takes the industry to an investment of £18.8 billion in 2017," or $23.37 billion, it said in a statement about its updated estimate. In 2015, ad growth had amounted to 9.6 percent, according to the firm.

"The effect of the future EU exit on the U.K. economy is unknown, but the short-term impact was negligible," said Adam Smith, futures director at GroupM. "To our own surprise, we are revising U.K. advertising growth up."

GroupM’s outlook for traditional media advertising has come down from a decline of 1.1 percent to a 2.6 percent drop this year, including a 0.1 percent drop in TV ad spending. But internet spending will rise 18.1 percent, driving growth this year, it said.

GroupM added that "digital display demand continues to rise strongly," that "the main driver that we have seen is paid search accelerating again" and that "the U.K. remains among the most digital-centric advertising markets in the world."

Zenith, another forecaster, recently reduced its 2016 U.K. ad growth estimate from 5.6 percent to 5.4 percent, citing the Brexit vote.

U.K. TV giant ITV recently said that the debate and confusion over whether there will be a "hard" or "soft" Brexit has been a factor that has made advertisers in Britain more cautious.

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