Advanced Television

Data: UK ad-spend returns to pre-Covid levels in H1

September 2, 2022

Nielsen has revealed that, according to Ad Intel data, advertising investment across key media in the UK increased during the first six months of 2022 returning to pre-pandemic levels of spend. Digital display, Outdoor and Cinema stood out in the first two quarters of 2022 in terms of  per cent increase year on year.

Nielsen Ad Intel shows a 20 per cent increase in overall ad spend in the first half of 2022 compared to this time last year. However, the trend currently shows that ad spend has marginally slowed down in the second quarter of 2022 as companies are cautiously waiting to see what impact the increased cost of living has had on consumer spending and the wider macro economic challenges.

First half of 2022 in review:

  • Ad spend on TV and radio were up by 8.3 per cent and 3.35 per cent respectively in comparison to this time last year. Both are up over 9 per cent compared to 2019, pre-pandemic levels. However there is decreased ad spend when comparing Q2 of 2022 to Q1 2022, with radio down 5.9 per cent and TV down 6.1 per cent, which could be considered to be an indicator of more challenging times ahead for the industry.
  • Paid social media advertising was consistent in monthly Ad spend across all categories in 2022. The categories that stood out were entertainment and leisure, clothing and accessories, and online retail. Ad spend in social media reached its peak in March, however fell back to its lowest level in H1 in June.
  • Digital display also saw an upsurge in ad spend of 28 per cent year on year, and continued to perform well in Q2.
  • Cinema houses came out of the pandemic after their enforced closure with an increase of >1000 per cent  in Ad Spend since their reopening in May 2021, with big releases such as Top Gun: Maverick helping the cause. Despite the increase, cinema still currently lags 25 per cent behind pre-pandemic levels of £129 million in H1 2019.
  • Outdoor industry had a good start to the year with a 54 per cent increase in Ad spend, as the footfall at the busy areas such as transport hubs, retail parks, as well as greater travels on road networks encouraged the advertisers to return to invest in the medium.
  • Press had a significant increase of 16 per cent in ad spend from this time last year back on an upward trajectory.

Commercial Director, Barney Farmer, commented: “Advertising on a general level has been moving in a positive direction during the earlier parts of 2022, with some nice uplifts across all media channels. However, the headwinds facing the UK economy of inflationary pressures and sluggish growth, indicate that we may be going into more challenging times in the second half of the year.

Nielsen data suggests that Ad spend during a time of high inflation and increased energy costs has remained strong, yet we have seen areas where spending has started predictably to decrease in the second quarter of 2022. As consumers navigate through economic uncertainty, consumer spending might further decrease, causing companies to reassess their ad expenditures in quarters three and four.”

A closer look at Nielsen Ad Intel 2022 data shows a mixed picture in ad spend in basic discretionary consumer spend categories.

Top UK advertising spend by categories in the first half of 2022:

Entertainment & Leisure 

  • Entertainment and leisure is up by 30 per cent from this time last year. Although overall spending in a range of subscription services is only 3 per cent more than this time last year, the larger players continue to heavily invest in advertising with rises of >100 per cent by certain leading streaming platforms.

Price Comparison Websites 

  • Nielsen reports that overall spend in the comparison websites category was down by 8 per cent from this time last year, which was unexpected considering that consumers are looking for ways to reduce costs.

Energy & Food 

  • Advertising by thesupermarkets went up 7 per cent from this time last year. Certaindiscounter supermarkets increased their ad spend by double digits as they look to attract the customers from the Big 4 and the premiums. Supermarkets are often using Advertising in a product price battle to retain their consumer base against their competition.
  • Food delivery services remains one of the discretionary categories unaffected by the higher cost of living, with an upsurge in overall ad spend that’s 70 per cent more than last year. Increased ad expenditures during this time might suggest that companies did not see a drop in consumer spending.
  • Retail and business energy & utility have predictably seen a dramatic decrease in ad spend down 57 per cent overall, with one of the industry’s leading energy suppliers reducing its ad spend by a significant 74 per cent.

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