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Mediatel News Staff 

600+ advertisers spent more on TV in pandemic-hit 2020

600+ advertisers spent more on TV in pandemic-hit 2020

More than 600 UK advertisers increased their adspend on TV last year, despite a collapse in the market during the height of the pandemic.

New data from Nielsen collated by TV marketing body Thinkbox shows how, despite an overall TV ad market decline of 7.2% in 2020, 619 advertisers increased their spend on TV last year.

These advertisers represent just under a quarter (24%) of all of 2019’s TV advertisers and 142 of them increased spend by over £1m year on year.

The data excludes brands that were new to TV advertising in 2020.

TV spot prices fell to historically low levels last year after the market crashed by 50% in April. While many brands such as Coca-Cola paused all adspend, including on TV, many brands appeared to have increased spend in order to take advantage of cheaper prices.

Among the biggest movers are Unilever, whose TV spend more than doubled last year (up 131% year on year) to £116m, eBay (up 117% year on year to £22m), and EE (up 67% to £23m).

However, as Unilever's global media operations director Sam Blake told last year's Future of TV Global Advertising event, the FMCG giant also regards TV as a more cost-effective media channel because greater developments in connected TV that are giving the medium more value.

Blake said last December: “As people have started to consume media - particularly over the last six to nine months - in a very different way, advanced TV brings something to the terms of adding and driving reach.”

Confidence continuing in 2021

The data appears to also show that this spend has continued into 2021 despite prices increasing in response to an overall surge in advertiser demand. The latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report predicted that the total TV advertising market will be up by 22.9%, more than reversing the 11.8% overall decline in 2020.

Of the 142 advertisers that increased their TV investment in 2020 by over £1m, the Nielsen data shows the vast majority have continued to strengthen their commitment to TV in 2021. Nearly nine in 10 (89%) have increased TV spend again in 2021 relative to 2019 levels, with 68% increasing TV by over 50%.

These include Unilever, which has invested £59m more on TV during January-September than they did during the same period in 2019, Tesco (up 69% for the same period), and O2 (up 112%).

Matt Hill, Thinkbox’s research and planning director, said:: “In 2020, when the price of TV dropped due to lower demand overall, the easy thing for advertisers to do would have been to maintain their usual level of TV exposure, but at a much lower level of investment. Some advertisers did this, understandably. Some had to stop advertising altogether.

“But what these figures show is that a large number of advertisers – especially big brands that were already significant TV investors – took advantage of the moment and the incredible value on offer to increase their TV exposure. And it looks like it paid off, as they have continued to increase their TV investment in 2021.”

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