TV advertising forecast to return to annual growth in 2018

Momentum returning to TV ad market TV advertising forecast to return to annual growth in 2018

  • Online businesses remain the biggest investors in TV advertising
  • There were 785 new or returning advertisers on TV in 2017
  • Procter & Gamble was the most viewed TV advertiser with 33.5 billion views

TV advertising revenue in the UK totalled £5.11 billion in 2017, down 3.2% on the record high set in 2016 of £5.28 billion, according to full year figures provided to Thinkbox 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 7 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% compared with the same period in 2016. And figures from the UK broadcasters suggest that Q4 2017 saw an approximate 2% 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% 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% 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% down year on year)
  2. Food: £559 million (11.4% down year on year)
  3. Cosmetics & Personal Care: £431 million (2.4% down year on year)
  4. Entertainment & Leisure: £385 million (1.6% up year on year)
  5. Finance: £324 million (3.1% 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 5 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% viewable, played through from start to finish at normal speed) was £5.06, 4% less than 2016 and 28.6% cheaper in real terms than 10 years ago.

Lindsey Clay

Post-recession, TV advertising in the UK had 7 consecutive years of growth. 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.

Lindsey Clay Chief Executive, Thinkbox

TV advertising facts at a glance:

  • TV advertising is responsible for 71% of total ad-generated profit within 3 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% 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% 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%, making it the most effective medium (IPA, 2017)
  • There are 17 million conversations about TV advertising every evening in the UK (BARB/Thinkbox, 2017)


Press contact

Simon Tunstill | [email protected] | 020 7630 2326

 Notes to editors

*‘Online businesses’ consists of advertising by all online-only brands and online services for bricks and mortar businesses.

 ** A TV ad ‘view’ relates to a single viewer watching a full TV ad at normal speed and with the sound likely to be on, as measured by The Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB). It is not equivalent to a standard online video ad view (or impression) as defined by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), which relates to a device playing a video for at least 2 seconds and being visible on at least 50% of the screen.  

 About Thinkbox

Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. It works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV.

Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media Innovations and UKTV, who together represent over 99% of commercial TV advertising revenue through their owned and partner TV channels. Associate Members are Discovery Networks Norway, Disney, TAM Ireland, Think TV (Australia), thinktv (Canada), TVN Media (Poland), TV Globo (Brazil), TV2 (Norway), TV2 (Denmark), DSTv (South Africa), and Virgin Media. Discovery Networks UK & Ireland and STV also give direct financial support.

TV has more to offer advertisers than ever before. In a cluttered media world, with new voices clamouring for advertisers’ attention, TV continues to stand out as proven, trusted and – most importantly – pre-eminently effective.

TV shapes popular culture. The investment our broadcasters make in premium quality TV shows catering to every taste – and available on any screen you wish – creates an advertising environment that is second to none.

From ensuring that the facts about TV are known (and myths challenged) to understanding how and why TV advertising works, explaining how TV is changing, showcasing innovative and affordable solutions and constantly providing the rigorous proof of effectiveness that advertisers need, Thinkbox is here to help businesses meet their marketing objectives.



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