Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

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Over 40% of UK marketing budgets now spent on digital

For the first time since the study began, digital has received the largest share of marketing and communications investment in the UK, with 40.7% of spend going toward it, according to the Agency Scope UK 2021/22.

UK digital investment has increased by more than 18% since 2015, and is higher than the majority of the other markets where the Agency Scope is conducted. Aside from digital, 37.5% of UK marketing budgets are invested in above-the-line and 21.8% in below-the-line.

Compared to the 2019 edition of the report, both average company turnover and marketing budgets have increased, growing to £10.9 billion and £41.7 million, respectively.

“Based on rigorous research, the insights outlined in this report will enable agencies to adapt and strengthen their strategies in the marketplace, empowering them to better serve their clients in a dramatically changed industry landscape,” said Paul Coxhill, Managing Director at WARC.

On the relationships front, 58.8% of marketers work with different specialist agencies for particular disciplines. 60.2% said they would prefer to work with specialist agencies in the future, with the remainder opting for integrated agencies. And, when it comes to actually selecting an agency, pitching is still the method used most of time, with 92.6% of marketing professionals using the method.

These relationships have also increased in duration, rising to 4.9 years on average as marketers have been seeking stability during the combination of the pandemic and the issues around social responsibility and sustainability.

“The pandemic has caused the decrease of New Business activities and brought on a decline in agency meetings with prospects,” said Johanna McDowell, UK MD & Partner at Scopen.

When it comes to the challenges currently faced by companies, 29.1% cited proving ROI, effectiveness, results, or metrics as the biggest issue, followed by a better understanding and engagement with the consumer (27.4%), and being able to better adapt to lower client budgets (20.7%).

Developed by Scopen, in partnership with WARC and with participation of ISBA members, the fourth edition of the Agency Scope UK saw 306 client-agency relationships analysed and 141 marketing professionals – from the likes of Diageo, eBay, Ford, Heinz, NatWest, Tesco, Shell, and Unilever, to name a few – interviewed for the report. The report is also conducted in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain.