Exporting UK Advertising - Part I


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Advertising think tank Credos surveyed over 100 providers of advertising and marketing communications services to benchmark the export activity of the UK advertising sector.

The findings showed high levels of export activity, supporting previous Credos research – notably in its ‘Advertising Pays 4’ report – which has shown the UK to be a world leader in advertising exports[1].


 Survey method

An online survey was distributed by the Advertising Association’s trade body members and other supporters (Advertising Producers Association, Direct Marketing Association, Internet Advertising Bureau, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Institute of Promotional Marketing, Market Research Society from the trade body world, AAR Group, London & Partners from business, and Campaign and Little Black Book from across the media). Respondents representing over £1 billion in turnover took part.



Nine out of ten (87 per cent) businesses surveyed generate income overseas, with overseas clients accounting for an average of 31 per cent of revenue where known.

High levels of export activity were not limited to large companies, with both small and medium sized companies generating a similar proportion of their revenue from exports. Meanwhile, over a third (35 per cent) of businesses surveyed claimed to operate as a regional or global hub for their clients, reflecting the UK’s role as Europe’s advertising capital.

The EU is the primary destination for UK exports, with nine out of ten (89 per cent) exporters servicing clients in EU markets. The EU is closely followed by the USA at 74 per cent, with China in third place at 29 per cent.

The running order illustrated above is in line with that shown by research carried out by the Advertising Association in December 2017[2].

International outreach


Most businesses surveyed (65 per cent) participate in overseas events, with the most popular activities being sales visits and trade shows. Nearly one in five (18%) have taken part in DIT trade missions – up from 12 per cent in 2017.

A minority but nonetheless significant proportion businesses surveyed reported taking part in no overseas events (35 per cent). These businesses were exclusively SMEs.

The most popular events to have attended were Cannes Lions (49 per cent of respondents), SXSW (29 per cent), New York Advertising Week (14 per cent) and the Mobile World Congress (13 per cent).


[1] Credos (2016), Advertising Pays 4: Export value and global impact

[2] Advertising Association (2017), International Trade Survey



This information first appeared in the UK Advertising Exports Report, published by the Advertising Association in March 2019.

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