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This page provides an overview of the Advertising industry in Scotland and highlights some of the funding organisations available to you.

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Advertising is one of the key creative industry sectors in Scotland, with a turnover equivalent to the turnovers of music, computer games, radio/TV and film and video combined. It’s a wide-reaching sector that is generally considered to include marketing and public relations. So it offers opportunities to creatives of all descriptions. 

The big picture

There are around 153,000 people employed in advertising in the UK as a whole, earning an average of around £37,747 a year. More than half of them are based in London. In fact, only about 3% of the UK’s advertising workforce operates north of the border. 

It’s still, however, a significant player in the Scottish economy. More than 5,000 people work across 670 companies, turning over a total of £438 million a year.

Working in advertising 

Copywriting, design, animation, client and project management, planning and technology development — this sector encompasses a wide range of opportunities. Aside from the more obviously creative roles, there are market researchers, production managers, research and development teams, not to mention the specialist administrative support the industry need. Most of the UK’s advertising population is agency-based, however almost a quarter are freelancers.

Developing your skills

Most of the people working in advertising have some kind of higher education qualification – but not always in advertising. It’s fairly common to find people with degrees in subjects like psychology, English or another modern language as well as advertising, marketing, media and communications. 

If you’d like to continue, return to or begin studies in advertising there are courses in further and higher communications institutions all over the country. There are also plenty of short courses in subjects like specific advertising techniques, or digital marketing. 

Outwith formal education, various workshops, events and information are available from the industry’s representative bodies, like the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA).

Funding and support

The advertising and marketing sectors are recognised as creative industries by both the Scottish and British Governments. Their economic importance, and the importance of the creative industries as a whole, is also acknowledged. Yet when it comes to sector-specific finance or funding, there’s precious little available. 

The IPA is the UK professional body for advertising and marketing firms. It can’t offer finance, but it does provide a range of support and advisory services, as well as professional qualifications and events designed to help you improve your business or practice. 

Similarly, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers ISBA is a representative membership body supporting self-regulation in advertising. Again, it doesn’t provide finance, but it does offer best practice guides and research about the industry that will help your business develop. It also covers industry issues and provides events, training and networking opportunities for members.

If you’re ready to start growing your business, you may be in a position to apply for generic business funding. Scottish Enterprise provides various funding and support initiatives for businesses already established but looking to take that next step. 


If you’d like to know more

Find out more about the sector:

Find out more about funding and support:

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