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TV on top as Nielsen releases 2021 ad spending figures

The latest figures from Nielsen have confirmed that advertising spending in the UK experienced strong growth in 2021, with TV advertising clearly standing out at its highest level since 2013.

Nielsen Ad Intel data shows the UK Media economy’s rebound is fueled by a 20% lift overall, following a 17%* decline in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in media spend shrinkage. Businesses stepped up their recovery plans coming out of the pandemic, with Computing, Retail, Travel & Transport, Entertainment & Leisure and Finance all recording significant spend increases compared to 2020.

Nielsen ad spend figures show that media ad spend across TV, radio, press, cinema, outdoor was £8.48 billion in 2021. TV ad spend was up 26.1% to £5.5 billion, a high since 2013, with its effective high levels of engagement and influence for advertisers. Radio recorded a similar strong growth of 21%, highlighting that it is still very effective. The Outdoor industry also had a good year with spend levels at £1.2bn, while Press continued to decline. 

Compared to 2019, TV and Radio ad spends surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021. However increased TV and radio ad spend failed to offset decreases in press and cinema. Ad spend on traditional media still lags behind the pre-pandemic level of £9.0 billion in 2019.

This increase in TV advertising is no surprise given Nielsen’s 2021 Trust In Advertising Survey found that TV was one of the most trusted sources of advertising messages, with a high 62% of respondents trusting TV product placement somewhat or completely and 59% saying that they will sometimes or always take action after being exposed to TV advertising.

Commercial Director Barney Farmer commented: “The UK’s Media Economy rebound in 2021 was impressive from the pull back in 2020. All Media channels unsurprisingly experienced an up-tick but the increases were significant. TV and Radio’s impressive performance is evidence that these channels of advertising remain a cornerstone of overall media plans for advertisers and the confidence in their ability to reach audiences and deliver value.

“High levels of advertising on linear TV channels is a sign of its fundamental strength, against a backdrop of rising streaming platforms who are trying to win new advertising clients off linear competition. The pandemic helped linear TV’s success by providing the population with the perfect excuse to stay home and watch?”

Digital Display also went from strength to strength during 2021 reporting significant growth. The Entertainment and Leisure, Computing and Finance sectors continue the lead in the digital space, with a combined spending of over £1 billion.

As the pandemic accelerated the fast growth of new advertising and marketing opportunities in digital channels for brands expanded, paid social media spend had a strong finish in 2021, with over £1.1 billion spent in Q4 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Farmer said: “For 2022, we expect that traditional advertising channels will continue to be the trusted mediums for consumers. However, the continued explosion of digital advertising including paid social media and influencer marketing continues to really impact what we purchase and consume.”