NEWS15 May 2020

Advertising spending fell in March, Nielsen data shows

Covid-19 Media News Public Sector Retail UK

UK – Advertising spend in traditional channels fell 5% in March due to Covid-19, figures from Nielsen show.

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Advertisers spent £586m on promoting products on television, press, radio, cinemas and out-of-home, a decrease of -5% compared to the same period in 2019.

While overall spend dropped, television advertising saw a 4% rise to £412m compared with March last year, accounting for 70% of all advertising spend in traditional channels.

Spending on press advertising fell 38%, radio by 20% and out-of-home by 22% in March 2020, compared with March 2019. The closure of cinemas due to the lockdown imposed in March to stop Covid-19 meant weekly spend on advertising there fell 94%.

The sector that saw the biggest drop in spending on advertising was the travel industry, which had a decline of 48%. Advertising spending also fell 17% in the entertainment industry and 15% in telecoms.

However, other industries increased their advertising investment, with the government increasing its expenditure by 22% and food spending 18% more. Computing saw a 41% rise, while mail order firms spent 40% more and leisure equipment retailers bumped up their advertising spend by 37%. Online retailers inflated their advertising spend by 208%, Nielsen found.

Nielsen’s data shows that Unilever and Proctor & Gamble spent the most on television advertising in March with £10m and £9.4m respectively. Other big advertisers were NHS England (£3.9m) and the supermarkets Asda (£3.7m), Aldi (£3m) and Tesco (£2.1m).

Barney Farmer, UK commercial director at Nielsen, said: “Looking ahead to the coming months, it’s clear these March results represent just the beginning of the shifts in spend we will continue to see.

“The question of which ad sectors will return and how much advertising spend will be injected back into the market will depend on many factors – the most important of which will be the government’s guidance on what, when and how we can move about freely.”