UK Autumn Budget: Global race for Artificial Intelligence

The 2017 autumn budget delivered on Wednesday 22 November focused on how to make the UK a world leader in technology and innovation; with key investments planned for AI, 5G and driverless cars.

£75m for artificial intelligence

“UK is in a global race when it comes to the adoption of AI technology, and it cannot afford to lose.” Phillip Hammond, UK chancellor of the exchequer.

As a company firmly in the AI space and already working with key partners including Durham University in a unique Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) looking at the future of AI, we welcome the cash injection in this area. Our own KTP activity examines online behaviour and characteristics to increase click through rates, and in turn, the profitability of digital campaigns, but the AI sector as a whole is vast.

The real value of AI is in its power to help us understand data and make decisions in a fraction of the time it took before. We apply this to online customer experiences with our services packaged up as Carbon; which consists of a Data Management Platform and a range of tools to personalise ads, landing pages, and content that increase engagement and conversions.


According to the BBC, the AI funding announced by the Treasury will support start-ups and raise the number of new PhD students in the field to 200 each year. It is also thought some of the money will go towards an advisory body to remove barriers to AI development.

While £75m is a great sum of money, how the Government decides to disseminate it will be critical. Our nation is already far behind our Asian counterparts, with just 1.9% of AI-related patent applications between 2010 to 2015 coming from the UK and 70% of AI technological developments reportedly being created in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. Our advice to the Government is to be selective and to focus on fewer innovations with bigger funding streams available, rather than taking the scattergun approach.

£160m for 5G mobile networks

Better connectivity is essential for any business to flourish and in our sector specifically, an investment in 5G mobile networks is good news for digital marketers. Faster connections and more coverage means advertisers can deliver more creative, interactive and immediate adverts across smart devices, which will provide better return on spend.

By 2022 5.5bn people will have mobile phones, driving 90% of internet traffic and over 70% of video traffic, mobile is an overarching driver for digital marketing. This means there’s a growing opportunity and need to collect consumer data on mobile to personalise the experience. In the UK, Mobile now accounts for 38% of all digital ad revenue, though this still lags behind the nearly 50% of time users spend on mobile. With mobile video the fastest-growing digital ad format, social growing strong to (accounting for nearly 50% of digital display), and innovations around VR, AR and mixed reality, means strong connections are a must.

Voice search is another key mobile innovation; poised to rise on an enormous scale over the next few years, advertisers must be ready for this next frontier in human-computer interaction, and carefully consider how to best get their brand in front of the new generation of 5G, screen-less users. Our recent article in highlights predictions that by 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through conversations as voice adoption grows as well as offering advice on how to prepare for the voice revolution.

Regulatory changes for on-road driverless car testing

“fully driverless cars without a safety attendant on board in use by 2021.” Phillip Hammond

The prospect of driverless cars opens a wide range of possibilities for our sector, especially around the targeting of content to those aboard the vehicles, whose attention will no longer be on driving!

Boost to digital skills

“To meet the challenge of tomorrow head on “we need the skills” Phillip Hammond

Putting computer science at the heart of the tech revolution Hammond announced that every secondary school pupil can now take this, with his plan was to triple the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000. In addition, a retraining partnership with the TUC and CBI will help boost digital skills in the current workforce

Placing so much emphasis on technology in the autumn budget is a great first step in making the UK more economically viable and competitive as we face disruption around Brexit and from world leaders in the sector. I hope these introductions are effectively managed and delivered and remain on the priority list, to help strengthen our skills, prepare our future workforce all while creating a nurturing environment for our innovators.

For more information about Clicksco Group, visit