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Study: Momentum returning to UK TV ad market

March 6, 2018

TV advertising revenue in the UK totalled £5.11 billion (€5.74bn) in 2017, down 3.2 per cent on the record high set in 2016 of £5.28 billion, according to full year figures provided to Thinkbox – the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK – by the UK commercial TV broadcasters.

The figures represent all money invested by advertisers in commercial TV across all formats and on any screen: linear spot and sponsorship, product placement, Broadcaster VoD, addressable and interactive.

TV advertising returning to growth

2017’s decrease in TV advertising revenue followed seven consecutive years of growth in the UK. The decline was caused by ongoing economic and political uncertainty, with a weakened pound and inflationary pressure leading some advertisers to reduce TV investment, notably FMCG advertisers.

However, according to data from Nielsen, FMCG spend on TV advertising in Q4 2017 grew by 8 per cent compared with the same period in 2016. And figures from the UK broadcasters suggest that Q4 2017 saw an approximate 2 per cent overall increase in TV spend year on year. The Advertising Association/WARC predict that TV advertising in the UK will return to annual growth again in 2018, forecasting a 1.5 per cent increase in total investment.

Online businesses remain the biggest advertisers on TV

Based on 2017 data from Nielsen, online businesses – including brands such as Amazon, Trivago, Google & Purple Bricks – invested a total of £682 million in TV advertising, 0.3 per cent less than in 2016. Despite cuts in other categories, online businesses, which in 2016 became the biggest spenders on TV, remained steadfast in their TV investment.

The top 5 biggest spending categories on TV in 2017 according to Nielsen’s data were:

  1. Online businesses:  £682 million (0.3 per cent down year on year)
  2. Food: £559 million (11.4 per cent down year on year)
  3. Cosmetics & Personal Care: £431 million (2.4 per cent down year on year)
  4. Entertainment & Leisure: £385 million (1.6 per cent up year on year)
  5. Finance: £324 million (3.1 per cent down year on year)

785 new or returning advertisers on TV

This figure represents the number of brands who advertised on TV for the first time or returned to TV after a gap of at least five years and includes new to TV advertisers who used AdSmart. Notable new or returning brands included Uber, Opodo and Sixt.

Procter & Gamble was the most viewed TV advertiser

According to data from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), Procter & Gamble was the most viewed TV advertiser in 2017 with 33.5 billion views on TV. The top 5 advertisers/holding companies on TV were:

  1. Procter & Gamble: 33.5 billion views
  2. Sky: 24.7 billion views
  3. Unilever:  17.5 billion views
  4. Reckitt Benckiser: 16.9 billion views
  5. BT: 14.1 billion views

TV is delivering excellent value

In 2017 the average cost per thousand for TV-set ad views (100 per cent viewable, played through from start to finish at normal speed) was £5.06, 4 per cent less than 2016 and 28.6 per cent cheaper in real terms than 10 years ago.

“Post-recession, TV advertising in the UK had seven consecutive years of growth,” notes Lindsey Clay, Chief Executive of Thinkbox. “But TV hyper-reacts to the economy, good or bad, and recent uncertainty saw growth stall in 2017. That growth is now returning.”

“The pendulum is swinging back to TV. We have more proof than ever that TV advertising drives business growth and outperforms all other forms of advertising. TV is a proven, trusted, high quality environment for brands.”

“And TV’s strengths and unique assets have been thrown into even sharper relief recently following the much-publicised scandals and loss of trust in some areas of online advertising. Advertisers are re-assessing where they advertise and TV is well placed to capitalise.”

TV advertising facts at a glance:

  • TV advertising is responsible for 71 per cent of total ad-generated profit within three years, at the highest efficiency and for the least risk (Ebiquity/Gain Theory, Profit Ability: the business case for advertising, 2017)
  • Commercial TV reaches 90 per cent of the UK every week (BARB, 2017)
  • An average broadcast TV campaign in the UK (of 400 TV ratings) gets 238 million views (BARB, 2017)
  • 86 per cent of ‘Industry standard’ TV on the TV set in the UK is watched live (BARB, 2017)
  • Including TV advertising in a campaign increases its effectiveness by 40 per cent, making it the most effective medium (IPA, 2017)
  • There are 17 million conversations about TV advertising every evening in the UK (BARB/Thinkbox, 2017)

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