Methodology

About the AA/WARC Data

General

The Advertising Association and WARC undertake quarterly surveys of all media types. The revenue figures collected are before the deduction of agency commission, but after the deduction of all negotiated discounts. With the exception of direct mail, production costs are excluded. The methods of collection for each sector are given below.

AA/WARC adspend totals

AA/WARC's definition of 'total adspend', 'total display' and 'total classified' exclude data series that are only available on an annual basis.

Newsbrands

Prior to 2011, all digital (online) newsbrand revenue was included in the internet total. However, to reflect the multi-platform nature of these properties, the AA/WARC revised its quarterly survey to incorporate both print and digital revenues for national and regional newsbrands from Q1 2011.

Digital revenues are now available for national and regional newsbrands at the following levels: total, display and classified. Within this, classified revenues can be broken down further to show digital splits for recruitment and non-recruitment classified.

Please note: the digital revenues reported within newsbrands are duplicated within internet display, classified, recruitment and non-recruitment numbers. Care should be taken when summing categories to avoid any double counting.

National dailies and Sundays
All national newsbrands participate in the survey. The Evening Standard is classified as a regional daily but its supplement was included in the national newspapers supplements totals until Q1 2010. The survey provides reliable data on total national newsbrand expenditure, broken down by dailies, Sundays and supplements, and between the popular and quality categories.

Advertising spend data at the daily/Sunday and popular/quality level is only available for print.

National newsbrands include the following titles:

Dailies: Daily Mirror, Daily Star, The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, the i, The Times, Metro

Sundays: The Sunday Mirror, Daily Star on Sunday, The People, Sun on Sunday, Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times

National newsbrands are also classified according to the following:

Popular titles: Daily Mirror, Daily Star, The Sun, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Metro, The Sunday Mirror, Daily Star on Sunday, The People, Sun on Sunday, The Express on Sunday, Mail on Sunday

Quality titles: Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, the i, The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, The Sunday Times

Regional daily newsbrands and Sundays
Quarterly returns are obtained from a panel of regional newsbrand publishers with the co-operation of Local Media Works. The panel, comprising both larger and smaller publishers, accounts for an estimated 60% of total regional newsbrand advertising revenue. The returns are grossed up to provide an estimate of the total market expenditure by applying the annual percentage change in revenue reported by the panel to the market estimate for the equivalent quarter in the previous year.

Print expenditure is broken down into dailies/Sundays, paid-for weeklies, free weeklies and into display and classified advertising.

Regional 'local' display advertising refers to advertisers based only in the circulation area of the newspaper.

Regional 'national' display advertising refers to advertisers based outside the title's circulation area.

Magazine brands

Prior to 2011, all digital (online) magazine brand revenue was included in the internet total. However, to reflect the multi-platform nature of these properties, the AA/WARC revised its quarterly survey to incorporate both print and digital revenues for consumer and business magazine brands from Q1 2011.

Digital revenues are now available for consumer and business magazine brands at the following levels: total, display and classified.

Please note: the digital revenues reported within magazine brands are duplicated within internet display, classified, recruitment and non-recruitment numbers. Care should be taken when summing categories to avoid any double counting.

Consumer magazine brands
Quarterly returns are provided by a panel of magazine publishers (both large and small) who between them account for over 80% of total consumer magazine advertising revenue. The figures are grossed up to represent the total market using a similar technique to that used for regional newspapers.

Data excludes magazines which constitute newspaper supplements.

Business and professional magazine brands
The quarterly survey employs the same methodology as that for consumer magazine brands. Returns for this sector relate to over a third of total expenditure, but, since the tail of smaller publishers who are not members of the panel is long, and the Nielsen Company covers only a few titles in this sector, it is not possible to estimate the grand total with precision. It should be noted that the definition of business and professional magazines is that their main entry in BRAD appears under a business heading.

From Q1 2011, the online recruitment total also includes data for business magazine brands recruitment advertising where paid for separately to a print campaign. Care should therefore be taken when summing business magazines digital recruitment with internet recruitment categories to avoid double counting.

Television

Television advertising revenues are based on net figures provided by a number of industry sources, which are grossed up assuming a standard 15% agency commission.

As of May 2013, the Expenditure Report includes data from 2011 for product placement, advertiser funded programming, video on demand and 'other revenues' which includes interactive fees (e.g. Shazam) and pub TV. From January 2017, these series were made available quarterly and backdated to Q1 2011. Consequently, the quarterly TV total now includes these revenues atop spot and sponsorship.

We now adjust our TV figures on an annual basis so that the annual TV adspend total matches the figure issued by Thinkbox.

Please note: TV video on demand (broadcaster only) is duplicated and appears within both TV and internet. Care should be taken when summing the two categories to avoid any double counting.

Radio

Quarterly data is provided by the Radiocentre and includes spot, branded content and digital ad format revenues.

'National' radio advertising expenditure refers to advertising booked within the area of the M25.

'Local' radio advertising expenditure refers to all advertising booked outside the M25.

Outdoor and transport

For the out-of-home media, a quarterly survey is undertaken by Outsmart.

Cinema

Quarterly figures from 1993 onwards are provided by the Nielsen Company.

Direct mail

Direct mail expenditure figures are provided by Royal Mail as a total of postage and non-postage costs.The postage element is based on direct mail sales data and, to a decreasing extent, on survey data. Royal Mail's definition of direct mail includes items such as unrequested catalogues and vouchers/money-off coupons but excludes requested catalogues.The non-postage costs have been calculated by Royal Mail using a methodology developed by PwC and include production costs such as design, printing and packaging.

The current methodology was introduced in July 2014 with expenditure figures based on this definition re-calculated from the second quarter of 2010.

In January 2017, the Royal Mail adjusted their modelling methodology further so as to improve reporting accuracy. The figures calculated using the new methodology have been revised back to Q2 2013, and comparison with quarters prior to this is not like-for-like.

Internet

The Expenditure Report includes quarterly advertising spend series for online video, mobile and tablet, alongside more detailed splits for total display and classified enabling subscribers to view online advertising accrued by broadcasters, newsbrands and magazine brands separately to that generated by internet-only or 'pure play' businesses.

Please note: the digital revenues reported within news and magazine brands are duplicated within internet display, classified, recruitment and non-recruitment numbers. Care should be taken when summing categories to avoid any double counting.

In April 2014, The IAB upwardly revised its annual estimates of broadcaster VOD adspend from 2011 to 2013 to bring them into line with the figures published in the AA/WARC Expenditure Report. This change has resulted in an overall increase in both the total internet adspend figure from Q1 2011 and a corresponding increase in the internet display figure. The IAB have also introduced a minor re-allocation of adspend between categories which has broadly resulted in a decline in search spend and an increase in display spend going back to Q1 2008.

The three internet pureplay data series (total, display and non-recruitment classified) have also been adjusted back to Q1 2011. In the past, these data series in the Expenditure Report have been calculated by subtracting relevant digital spends on publisher (both newsbrands and magazine brands) websites and broadcaster VOD ad revenues from the internet adspend figures produced by the IAB. However, while the Expenditure Report adspend figures are grossed up to represent the total market, the IAB figures are not. As a result, this has not been a like-for-like calculation. The IAB has now provided WARC with its estimate of pureplay adspend based on the survey carried out by PwC, and WARC has now incorporated these figures into the Expenditure Report. In addition to revenues for newsbrands and magazine brands and broadcaster VOD, the IAB pureplay figure also excludes adspend for radio station websites.

The majority of internet advertising data is provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), on whose behalf PricewaterhouseCoopers conducts a biannual survey. As advertising expenditure figures are not available as frequently as they are for other media types (twice a year rather than four times a year), quarterly estimates are sometimes made by WARC. These are subsequently amended when IAB data is published.

From 2002, internet figures incorporate the WARC online recruitment advertising survey. Classified recruitment figures for national and regional newspapers paid for separately to a print campaign have traditionally been included within internet advertising expenditure. As of May 2013, online recruitment from Q1 2011 for national and regional newsbrands is also available as part of the newsbrands data series. Care should be taken when summing categories to avoid any double counting.

From Q1 2011, the online recruitment total also includes data for business magazine brands recruitment advertising where paid for separately to a print campaign. This means that figures are not directly comparable with those of previous years.

The size of the IAB survey panel varies from time to time, therefore care should sometimes be taken when comparing data year on year. From the start of 2010, the IAB introduced a new adspend category – 'Lead Generation'. The AA/WARC Expenditure Report includes both this category and a 'Not specified' category within the internet display total. In 2011 these two categories accounted for around £103m. As a result, the Expenditure Report internet display figure for 2011 is larger than the IAB display figure by this amount.

The internet figures include mobile search expenditure, and, from 2010 onwards, mobile display expenditure.

Mobile

The Expenditure Report includes mobile data on a quarterly basis from Q1 2011, with forecasts, across the following categories: display, search, SMS/MMS and other and total.

Advertising data is provided by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), on whose behalf PricewaterhouseCoopers conducts an annual survey. Mobile adspend revenues are included within the internet adspend totals.

About the Nielsen Category Data

Television

Estimated station revenues are gathered monthly from a number of stations, sales houses and Accenture (formerly Media Audits), then crossed referenced for accuracy. The total cost estimates are then broken down and applied to each individual pot with weightings applied for spot length and time of day. Each product advertised is linked to a Nielsen product category.

Press

All press advertising activity is collected and coded proprietary technology. Cost estimates are derived from a rate card calculation based on a mid-point figure. When incorporated into the multimedia system, discount factors are taken into consideration, and Advertising Association/WARC discounts are applied to bring them closer to reality. The discounts applied are on average 42% covering all press.

Press data include display and classified.

Radio

All Radio data comes from the industry itself, including spot logs directly from the stations, which are then matched to impacts by demographics sourced from RAJAR (www.rajar.co.uk). Expenditure is calculated using a Cost Per Thousand (CPT) rate-card unique to each station, and factored according to duration of ad, day part, day of week and month.

Internet

The Nielsen Company sources actual advertising impressions by advertiser directly from leading UK media owners. This data is then combined with impressions tracked by Nielsen Online, via its Ad Relevance product. Over 600 websites are monitored continuously.

Expenditure for display advertising only is estimated using an industry backed CPT based on the following bands of impressions:

  • 0–200,000
  • 200,001–1,000,000
  • 1,000,001–500,000,000
  • >500,000,000

Research is gathered from industry sources(IAB and WARC) for weighting adjustments to final totals.

In October 2014, Nielsen made some major methodological changes to the way it collects internet adspend. This significantly reduces the estimation of online spend from Q2 2013. This mainly stems from a reduction in volume projected against creative.

Outdoor

The Outdoor Media Centre uses its partner Optimad, to collect and provide complete coverage of UK outdoor advertising collected from sales houses monthly. By combining this with industry supplied rates for various outdoor sizes and formats expenditure is estimated for traditional sites, Bus, Tube and Airports.

Cinema

Data is supplied monthly from the major cinema contractors, detailing campaign length, and expenditure broken down by region. Information can be analysed by advertiser, brand, category, agency, duration, cost, incidence and region.

Direct Mail & Door Drops

Nielsen launched the UK's first direct mail monitor in 1987, using its own nationally representative consumer direct mail panel. Each consumer collects all unsolicited mail and door drops monthly and sends these directly to Nielsen, where details on advertiser, brand, category, mail-type, size, targeting and much more are collated.

Using practices common to panel research, direct mail expenditure and volumes are estimated following a weighting procedure that factors in volume and region, combined with the recipient's age and social standing. Final figures represent the costs of Post & Production only.

Door Drop expenditure relies on an average cost per thousand applied to estimated volumes according to volume, size and weight of creative.

About the AA/WARC Forecasts

How we forecast

Analysis of data over the past 30 years shows a clear relationship between the annual changes in total UK adspend (excluding recruitment) after adjusting for inflation and the annual changes in GDP. In fact, the changes in GDP account for around three quarters of the changes in adspend if the dotcom crash year of 2001 is excluded. At the quarterly level, the relationship is less clear as there are a number of short term factors that have a bearing on quarterly adspend levels. These include global sporting events such as the Olympic Games and World Cup and other influencers such as the timing of Easter. As a result, our adspend forecasts are based on annual GDP forecasts and for the latter we tend to use the consensus forecast published by the Treasury. This consensus is produced monthly and is based on around 40 independent forecasts from both city and non-city organisations. Other more subjective factors are also taken into consideration in our adspend forecast. For example, after the severe recent recession, some advertisers might well be cautious when considering increases in marketing budgets and wait until the recovery is clearly under way. This would result in a lower rate of adspend growth than would be otherwise expected in the shorter term followed by a higher rate in the longer term.

The forecast annual adspend total is broken down into quarterly figures after considering short term factors such as those identified above. The quarterly totals are then split into the display and classified sectors by examining the long-term share trends for each. Each element is then split by media type, for example television within the overall display sector, again by analysing the trend in the medium's share of the sector. In all cases, a number of short-term factors will also be taken into consideration.

UK advertising expenditure and the UK Economy, Annual Change in Adspend and GDP. (Adspend excludes recruitment, includes direct mail and is at constant prices)

For recruitment advertising, which accounts for less than 3% of all adspend, we have a separate model which links changes in adspend to changes in the level of unemployment. A number of structural factors are also considered here such as the trend in favour of online ad expenditure in place of print.

Nielsen product sector forecasts

The Expenditure Report includes quarterly forecasts for seven broad product categories, grouped by the AA and WARC using Nielsen product category data.

The seven broad AA/WARC sectors and their main Nielsen component categories are shown below:

  • Consumables: Food; drink; cosmetics & toiletries; pharmaceutical; household stores
  • Durables: Motors; household equipment; household appliances; leisure equipment; clothing; games & consoles
  • Services: Entertainment & leisure; media; travel & transport
  • Retail: Retail; mail order; online retail
  • Financial: Finance
  • Industrial: Telecoms; computers; business; property; gardening and agriculture
  • Government: Government; social & political organisations; charities

For further information on Nielsen's methodology, please refer to Nielsen category data for further information.