How important is advertising to our economy?

20 Aug, 2018
By Mark Baines

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The advertising industry supports over one million jobs in the UK and ads £120bn to the economy. Yes – really! These are the figures for 2016.

It’s huge

– not only in size and money, but also in its cultural significance, and the way it draws attention and talent to our little island of Britain. However, the advent of data-driven and digital marketing is having a detrimental effect, as the ‘soft’ skills such as empathy and creativity are now less valued than they were, and are being replaced with the hard skills of programming and data analysis.

In June therefore the House of Lords launched a Report ‘UK Advertising in a Digital Age’: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/communications-committee/news-parliament-2017/uk-advertising-report-publication/

Luckily for you I’m here to paraphrase the key recommendations of this important piece of work, as I don’t expect you to read the Report in full, dear reader! Because these will probably find their way into the Statutes book at some point in the future, and will have a big impact on our careers:

  • The Committee recommends that the industry should take greater steps to self-regulate through independent bodies such as the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards.
  • The Competition and Markets Authority should undertake a market study of the digital advertising market to ensure that it is working fairly for businesses and consumers.
  • The Government should review whether competition law is appropriate for the 21st century digital economy.
  • Individuals from all communities and backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, gender, class and ability, should have access to employment in the advertising industry. The industry should discontinue informal working and recruitment practices, such as unpaid internships, which present a barrier to groups from lower socioeconomic groups. The Government should clarify the law on unpaid internships. This will allow the advertising industry to access a larger talent pool which better reflects the advertisers' audiences.
  • The Government should seek to negotiate reciprocal agreements with other countries under which international workers with a job offer in the advertising industry will have the right to work in the UK. The Government should also introduce a creative industries' freelancer visa.

Some of these ‘recommendations’ will have a huge effect. It’s just a matter of time before they start working their way through the system.

You have been warned!

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