Post-Olympic TV ad market to fall flat

The TV advertising market is not due to experience its expected boost after the Olympics in September, suggesting non-sponsors are not planning to immediately return to spending after the closing ceremony, as was previously predicted.

Daley Watefield

ITV, Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster, forecast in its latest financial update that its ad revenue for September will be between flat and down 5 per cent year on year.

Analysts had previously said September would be a “key month” for spend to return to the market, after the July and August Olympic period in which non-sponsors are holding off activity and viewers flock to the BBC.

Media agency the7stars predicts that the entire TV market will be down 2.5 per cent in September compared with a year ago.

Those estimations are against tough comparatives from September last year, however, which marketing intelligence firm Warc believes was the best performing month in 2011, helped in part by the Rugby World Cup. The tournament boosted ITV’s ad revenues by 7 per cent compared with 2010.

Mark Jarvis, founding partner of the7stars, says as well as these tough comparatives on a year ago, advertisers are being “more cautious than ever” due to the wider macro economic environment, especially those in some “staples” of the market.

He adds: “Closer analysis of key market sectors reveal some interesting trends that will certainly not help the overall position if their spend profile continues. Two staples of the market, cars and retail, have all declined so far this year. The media sector is also down considerably, as is games and consoles.”

Colin Macleod, research consultant at Warc, says the grim outlook for September may also be due some TV advertisers that were keen to avoid the Olympics opting to shift spend from one quarter to the next.

This means the market could yet experience a bounce in October, or more likely the key November and December Christmas shopping periods, which could reverse the downward trend.

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