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60% of UK TV advertisers spent less than £250k in 2017

With over £5-billion spent on television advertising annually in the UK, it is often perceived to be exclusively for advertisers with big budgets.

The truth, however, may surprise many. According to research by Thinkbox, of the 2,760 different advertisers who appeared on UK TV screens during 2017, the majority (60%) spent less than £250k on their TV media. This includes regional businesses using regional TV, but there are many that are small businesses who are using television as part of their mix, some success with multiple small-scale campaigns, and some who only ran for 1 or 2 months on screens.

Almost 91% of advertisers spent less than £5m, with a noticeable drop in those spending £5-10m compared to £1-5m (74%). 9% of advertisers spent over £5m on media, with there being just four advertisers who spent more than £50m in 2017 (0.14%).

All Response Media viewpoint

The figures tell an interesting story about the UK TV market, many of which are positives, but they also show that there are a lot of advertisers who aren’t utilising the full potential of TV.

Firstly, the positives: TV really is as much for small businesses as it is for big brands; as recently evidenced by the TV ad for All Response Media. The fact that most advertisers spent less than £250k shows others with limited budgets that they too can test affordable TV. Advertising on television has become increasingly accessible for two main reasons based on the number of stations growing over the past 10-15 years. Firstly, due to increased inventory, Thinkbox reports that the average TV cost per thousand impacts (CPTs) figures in 2016 were 28% cheaper than they were in 2006 in real terms when accounting for inflation. Secondly, the growth of TV stations has meant improved targeting. There are now shows and stations that cater for just about everyone, young to old, male and female, with dedicated stations for those interested in food and interior design and specific programmes for the likes of fisherman and computer gamers. TV also remains the best way to reach mass audience, reaching 91% of adults every week.

However, the numbers are also disappointing to see from a media agency that knows how effective TV advertising can be for our clients. Too many of the 60% only ran one or two campaigns, suggesting results didn’t meet expectations. In our opinion, in many cases, that is because they didn’t approach their TV launch in the right way. There are also many regular advertisers on low budgets that could increase scale if they reviewed their media approach.

When planning TV, targeting is a key consideration, but there are many other variables that are essential to consider when delivering an effective TV campaign. Based on your budget, although ITVBe may be the best station for your audience, can you reach that same audience for less expenditure (and therefore reach more of them) elsewhere? Do you need to pay 2x-6x higher CPTs to be in peak TV? Using your existing data and audience insight from tools such as Target Group Index (TGI), what is the most effective way to weight your activity in a way to drive response? What month is best to launch (again not just considering audience, but also price)? Most important of all, how are you measuring activity so that you can both optimise your schedules, and improve the performance of future campaigns?

TV is a powerful, high reaching and effective advertising medium that is accessible to hundreds of small business. However, not all of those are utilising the full potential and making it work. The difference between those who are and those who are not is a memorable creative, and planning that uses as much insight as possible to deliver effective results-driven campaigns that drive response.