IAB UK’s Parliamentary event spotlights value of digital for SMEs

Posted on Friday 01 December 2023 | IAB UK

The Parliamentary launch event for our new research report ‘The Digital Dividend’ saw Baroness Stowell spotlight the economic contribution of the UK’s digital ad industry

“This is the first time the economic value of the UK’s digital advertising industry has been measured” explained Baroness Stowell, Chair of the Lords Digital and Communications Committee, introducing IAB UK’s latest research The Digital Dividend at an IAB UK hosted Parliamentary event this week. Speaking to an audience of Parliamentarians, the Baroness went on to explain why digital advertising is “hugely important to the UK economy, businesses and people in general” - drawing particular attention to how integral ad-funded online services are to the everyday lives of the vast majority of the population. 

Baroness Stowell speaking

Scott Corfe, Director of Data & Modelling at Public First, who co-authored the research, took the audience through the main findings. In total, the digital ad industry is worth £129bn to the UK economy and supports 2 million jobs around the country. As Scott put it, “digital advertising is saving consumers an awful lot of money at the moment, which is particularly important during the cost-of-living crisis.” The IAB’s research found that access to ad-funded online services saves the UK public a combined total of £18 billion a year, working out at over £600 per household on average. He also drew attention to the fact that digital channels help SMEs to expand their customer bases - potentially internationally - helping to boost the UK’s export market.

Scott speaking

Jon Mew, IAB UK’s CEO, helped to put the numbers into context: “The direct economic contribution of our industry to the UK’s economy is twice as large as the impact of the country’s agricultural sector. In addition, the employment footprint of our sector is 50% bigger than that of the automotive industry. In short, digital advertising is crucial to the economic health of our nation.”   

Jon Mew speaking

Discussing SMEs specifically, Mew referenced the Chancellor’s plan - outlined in the Autumn Statement - to increase digital adoption and explore how best to support SMEs to adopt digital technology to improve productivity. Citing new IAB UK research, he said: “We know that one-fifth of SMEs feel that they lack the skills to use digital advertising and that a similar proportion do not understand how to measure the value they get out of it – limiting the potential value they could get from a channel that could help them to grow and succeed,” he explained. “We know that there are tools and other support that could help address these challenges and will be looking to engage with policymakers to help to unlock the potential of digital advertising for UK SMEs.”  

You can find more pictures from the event here

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