COI doubles digital spend while ad expenditure slides

The COI has more than doubled its digital spend this year, but cut almost 10% – or £15m – from its £154.7m advertising spend, according to sources.

In the year 2005 to 2006 it had an overall marketing and communications budget of £321m, which has risen slightly this year. Much of the increase is due to a “significant” rise in digital activity, which in 2005 to 2006 accounted for just £12.1m.

The figures are to be presented to Parliament on July 26, ahead of the government department’s annual report. In previous years the COI has counted traditional media separately to media such as direct and relationship marketing, digital, events and sponsorship, but it is thought to be considering amalgamating the figures.

This would have the effect of emphasising a headline increase in spend this year. In 2005 to 2006, media spend was down £11m from a high of £165.4m, primarily due to the effect of a loss of trading during the May 2005 General Election “purdah period”.

Digital media has grown from a low of £3m in 2003/4 at a rate of more than 800% in just three years.

The COI is overseen by chief executive Alan Bishop. It is not known how the communications department will fare under new Prime Minister Gordon Brown. As chancellor, he was understood to be keen to cut advertising and promotion spend unless efficiency targets were met by Whitehall departments (MW February 16, 2006).

He announced a comprehensive spending review in 2004, setting a target of £21bn savings to be achieved every year by 2008. All Whitehall departments, except the Department for Transport, use COI to handle their advertising and marketing.

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