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UK companies raise ad budgets as confidence grows - survey

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of British companies increasing their marketing spend grew at its strongest pace in 13 years in the third quarter, signalling growing optimism about the economy, an industry survey showed on Thursday.

The IPA Bellwether report said a net balance of 12.3 percent of companies registered an increase in budgets in the third quarter, against 7.3 percent in the second quarter, the biggest upward-revision of spending since the survey began at the start of 2000.

The numbers add to recent signs of improving business confidence in Britain and improved macro-economic data. They also chime with comments from the industry, with WPP (LSE:WPP), the world's largest advertising agency, having in August slightly raised its 2013 forecast due to rising revenue.

Britain's economy grew by 0.8 percent the third quarter, helped by a rise in industrial output, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said last week.

"This latest Bellwether report indicates companies are beginning to move forward, away from recession and that the UK economy is on the rise again," said IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair.

"This optimism will send a continued upbeat message to the advertising industry and wider economy," he added.

The survey found companies were dedicating more of their marketing spend to the Internet, with a net balance of 11.7 percent choosing to boost their coverage online.

Main media advertising also saw a second successive period of growth, its strongest rise since Q3 2010, however budgets for public relations, events and direct marketing all saw net reductions.

The IPA Bellwether report was drawn up from a survey of 300 companies based in Britain.

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; editing by David Evans)