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Published: 17 Mar 2022

The advertising industry, with DIT support, sets out strategy review to negotiate future headwinds and secure next decade of growth

London, March 17, 2022: The Advertising Association has published its UK Advertising Exports Report 2022 showing that international trade in UK advertising and market research services was worth £11.7bn in 2020, sustaining the same level as the pre-pandemic conditions of 2019. Despite the challenges of a global lockdown faced by exporters in the UK advertising industry, balance of payments remained steady, bringing the UK a healthy £5bn trade surplus.

The figures are taken from an analysis by the advertising industry think tank, Credos, of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The data shows advertising and market research services in third place among comparable industries in 2020, behind insurance and pension services (£20.7bn) and computer services (£12.9bn). The US remains the largest recipient of UK exports, receiving £1.2 billion worth of advertising and market research services, followed by Spain (£895m), then Germany (£877m).

UK advertising’s outreach to the global stage was bolstered by the promotional work of the UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT). Through UK House it has created more than half a million contact opportunities with potential customers from 40 countries since the first lockdown, and in 2021 generated £21m worth of new business for members. Once again, the UK is second in the world for advertising services exports ($13.6bn) with the US leading at nearly $22bn – with a significant gap between its nearest place competitor – Germany coming in third at $11.8bn, according to OECD data.

The report also sets out several global headwinds for consideration. As a result, the Export Group has announced it will be reviewing its export strategy for the decade ahead. It will ask key questions on the impact of the lockdown, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, the rise of e-commerce, and the development of new international trade opportunities. This will inform the work the advertising industry undertakes, together with Government, to build on its previous decade of growth and ensure the UK maintains its position as a world-leading hub for high quality advertising and marketing services.

Mike Freer MP, Minister for Exports, commented: “The advertising industry deserves recognition for its effort and hard work to maintain £11.7bn export revenue in 2020, a tremendous performance during such a challenging period.”

He added, “The advertising industry has been highly engaged with the DIT teams based globally through its UK House programme as well as in developing UKAEG’s own search and selection tool for international clients. These are a great platform to promote advertising’s ability to drive export sales and DIT will continue to provide sector and market specific support to innovative companies to help them grow internationally.”

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association, said: “Despite the global disruption to trade caused by the pandemic the UK advertising industry managed to maintain exports in 2020 at £11.7bn, a similar level to 2019. However, as the global economy recovers in 2021 and 2022, there are headwinds to overcome, from the effects of the pandemic on supply chains to high levels of inflation. This year’s UK Advertising Exports Report sets out a clarion call for our industry and Government to redouble the work together to achieve higher levels of exports, with all the benefits for jobs, growth and international cooperation these bring.”

Janet Hull, Chair of UKAEG, Member Creative Industries Council, and IPA Director of Marketing Strategy said: “The advertising industry is part of a £116 bn creative industries sector, and we are proud to drive its success on the world stage. Now more than ever we need to tell the story of UK advertising’s benefits to global partners and search out new channel and market opportunities in a review of our export strategy to best prepare us for the next decade of growth.”

Julian Douglas, International Chief Executive and Vice-Chairman of VCCP, IPA President and UKAEG member, said: “The creativity coming out of the UK is truly world class – and now is the time to capitalise on this success and secure a second decade of growth. I urge all companies looking to grow their international revenues to get involved in the Export Group and participate in UK House going forward.”

UKAEG Member Sentiment Analysis and Case Studies

As part of the report, Credos also conducted a sentiment analysis by polling a number of UK Advertising Export Group (UKAEG) members about their thoughts on export prospects. Members felt broadly positive about prospects for UK advertising exports and showed a strong belief in the UK’s status as an international advertising hub.

The UK Advertising Exports Report 2022 also featured case studies from UKAEG members. These focused on campaigns created either for overseas markets or clients and demonstrate the breadth of the UK’s expertise in advertising and marketing services. 

As part of the Export Month programme, an exclusive Export Report discussion will take place at the Carlton Club on March 29 with Digital Tories Parliamentary Patrons. Free registration for all events is open via


Notes to editors:

For further information, please contact:

Matt Bourn, Director of Communications

Aisling Conlon, UKAEG Marketing Manager

Mariella Brown, Press Officer


The UK Advertising Export Group is an industry partnership with UK Government to accelerate profile and lead generation opportunities in key international territories including China, Japan, South Korea, North America and Europe. It is run by the Advertising Association, the IPA, APA, BPMA, and the Creative Industries Council.

Following a successful launch year in 2020, UKAEG has continued to raise the profile of British creative, media and digital companies around the world. The inaugural UK House was a partner at SXSW in 2021, attracting over 2,000 attendees from around the world and an extended partnership with DIT took UK House to Shanghai International Advertising Festival (SHIAF), broadcasting to over 500,000 viewers. It also partnered with Cannes Lions as part of the GREAT campaign.

Through UK House, UKAEG has showcased over 120 UK companies to delegates joining from over 40 countries including Brazil, Japan, USA, China and the UAE. Over the last two years, UKAEG’s virtual trade mission to SHAIF has included 20 new business meetings, 15 showcasing and presentation opportunities and in 2021 it also hosted an exhibition of UK Cannes Lions’ winning work. UKAEG’s efforts in China have resulted in around £21.1 million of new business for companies who took part in the mission.

As of January 2022, members of the UK Advertising Export Group include:

Advertising Association
Across the Pond
Atomic Creative
Brand Culture
British Promotional Merchandise Association
Chrome Productions
Cream UK
Digital Detox
Department for International Trade
Experience 12
Four Communications
FX Digital
Happy Finish
Hey Human
Kode Media
Locate Productions
London Advertising
LS Productions
Made by Madam
MullenLowe Group
Nexus Studios
Ping Pong Digital
Short Films
St Luke's
The Beyond Collective
The Mill
The network one group

About the Advertising Association

The Advertising Association promotes the role and rights of responsible advertising and its value to people, society, businesses and the economy. Responsible businesses understand that there is little point in an advertisement that people cannot trust. That's why, over 50 years ago, the Advertising Association led UK advertising towards a system of independent self-regulation which has since been adopted around the world. There are nearly thirty UK trade associations representing advertising, media and marketing. Through the Advertising Association they come together with a single voice when speaking to policy makers and influencers.

Categories:  Industry News