Digital businesses- online-only companies such as Amazon and traditional firms promoting online services – spent a record £639m on TV ad campaigns in 2016 to become the biggest-spending group of advertisers on the small screen.
Traditional media such as newspapers and magazines have been hit hard by advertisers switching their campaigns to online platforms such as Google and Facebook. However, spending on TV campaigns by online businesses climbed 8% last year, pushing the category above food spending, which fell by 10% to £627m.
The online business that spentmost on TV ads last year was the parent of Comparethemarket, famous for its meerkat campaign, , which spent £39m.
Big spenders also included MoneySupermarket and Amazon. Moneysupermarket, whose campaign featuring a bodyguard who grabs his crotch was the most-complained about of the year, increased its spending by 6% year on year.
Amazon increased its spending by 28% to £34.3m, as it promoted products including its TV service.
Betting firms, which are facing the prospect of a ban on daytime TV adverts , spent a total of £50m promoting their online betting services.
The main spenders included Bet365, which has used the actor Ray Winstone to front its campaigns, and Paddy Power which spent a combined total of just over £11m.
Google and Facebook reduced their TV spend last year, as did Netflix. The three companies spent only a relatively small £15m on TV ads between them.
“For online brands in particular, which usually have little or no physical presence, TV’s ability to create emotional connections with large audiences is vital,” said Lindsey Clay, chief executive of TV marketing body Thinkbox, which published the research.
A total of £5.27bn was spent on TV advertising last year, up 0.2% on 2015.
The 8% rise in total digital spending on TV saved the television ad market from overall decline, as many businesses held back on advertising as a result of uncertainty after the Brexit vote.
Spending on advertising cosmetics and personal care dropped 3% to £439m, while entertainment and leisure was flat at £419m.
The companies whose ads were most viewed were Procter & Gamble, Sky, Reckitt Benckiser, BT and Unilever.
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