The Covid pandemic might have struck the ad industry like a thunderbolt but it saw the Government becoming the biggest spender of 2020, outgunning the likes of Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Sky, with Public Health England also soaring in to the top ten.
A new report from Nielsen reveals the changing priorities for ad spend in the UK, with the Government estimated to have increased spend by 238%.
In a clear reflection of how the pandemic affected advertising budgets, Public Health England spend rose 800%, the highest growth in budget of any organisation.
The data, which includes budget spent on outdoor, press, radio, TV and cinema advertising – but surprisingly not digital or direct mail – is collated by Nielsen’s Ad Intel and provides advertising spend volumes across a variety of channels, advertisers and product categories.
Overall, ad spend across the top ten UK advertisers dropped in 2020, seeing an almost 20% fall compared to 2019. However, half of the advertisers included continued to increase spend this year, with Unilever, Tesco and L’Oréal all able to maintain or increase their budgets.
On the other hand, McDonald’s is estimated to have reduced ad spend the most in 2020 (by more than 40%), reflecting how stay at home orders impacted the fast food giant.
In addition, the data also analyses where the top UK advertisers spent their ad budgets in 2020, highlighting some dramatic shifts in spend on traditional media channels caused by changes in consumer behaviour through multiple Covid-19 lockdowns.
Nielsen UK managing director Barney Farmer said: “The last year has been one of huge uncertainty for advertisers and they have had to think carefully about how to adapt their ad strategies to continue connecting with consumers effectively.
“As a result, not only have we seen the UK Government increase advertising significantly to ensure vital public health messaging, we’ve also seen the biggest players in the advertising space hone in on data and insights available to them to ensure ad spend is as effective as possible.”
“As we work through 2021 we can expect further changes to behaviour and it is vital all advertisers, big and small, rely on up-to-the-minute, accurate data to inform their media buying decisions. While we have seen spend movement across media channels, we have also seen variety in how brands are targeting consumers based on their own specific audience base and needs.”
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