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British companies increase ad budgets as optimism grows-survey

LONDON (Reuters) - The balance of British companies increasing their marketing spending over those cutting back rose at the fastest pace for six years in the second quarter, signalling growing optimism about the economy, according to researchers IPA Bellwether.

Some 22 percent of companies surveyed upped ad spending against 15 percent that trimmed budgets, giving a net balance of 7.3 percent, the highest since the third quarter of 2007, it said on Thursday.

The numbers signal that the cuts in marketing budgets seen every year since the financial crisis could come to an end in 2013, the research company said.

"Companies are beginning to shake off the cloak of recession and are becoming more confident in the economy," IPO Director General Paul Bainsfair said.

"This bodes extremely well for continued growth in marketing spend for the rest of 2013. These figures should send a very upbeat message to the wider economy."

Britain's economy has seen at best anaemic growth since the 2008 financial crisis.

The International Monetary Fund, however, increased its forecast for British growth this year to 0.9 percent on Tuesday, saying that although the recovery remained weak, recent economic data was slightly more positive.

Companies were dedicating more and more marketing spend to the Internet, the survey found, with a net 17.4 percent increasing budgets for online advertising.

Budgets for public relations, sales promotion, main media advertising and direct marketing also saw increases, it said.

The IPA Bellwether report is based on a quarterly survey of about 300 British companies.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter)

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