Thinkbox: TV can gain more credibility in wake of Facebook metrics scandal

Thinkbox expects TV ad spend growth to be flat this year as concerns over Brexit make marketers uncertain over how they will spend their budgets.

Distrust among marketers in the wake of the Facebook metrics scandal has only reinforced the credibility of TV, according to Thinkbox.

The trade body says TV revenues totalled £5.27bn in 2016, a rise of 0.2% year on year and the seventh straight year of growth. Procter & Gamble was the most viewed TV advertiser in 2016 with 34.8 billion views, 14% more than its TV ads generated in 2015.

According to Matt Hill, research and planning director at Thinkbox, the recent move by P&G’s Marc Pritchard to reiterate the FMCG giant’s commitment to traditional advertising channels will only be a positive for the TV industry.

He tells Marketing Week: “For advertisers like P&G to go out publically and say they need to rethink their ad spend strategy [due to the Facebook metrics scandal] is good news for the TV industry. It is impossible to say if P&G will be the first of many but you definitely sense more questions are now being asked around the value of online advertising. I hope these scandals allow advertisers to more clearly see the credibility that TV delivers.”

But even if TV does have more credibility as an advertising channel than digital, it doesn’t hide the fact that its 0.2% growth in 2016 is marginal at best. Food brands, in particular, steeply cut their TV ad spend by 10% to £627m in 2016.

Hill concedes that brands have financial concerns around Brexit and that Thinkbox expects growth this year to be flat. “When it comes to the supermarkets spending less on TV, well, a big part of that is they import a lot of goods and Brexit has really upped prices so they need to save money on the marketing side,” he explains.

WARC estimates for the Advertising Association indicate the total UK advertising market grew 4.4% to £21.1 bn in 2016, with TV advertising representing 25.3% of it. And it forecasts that in 2017 the UK ad market will grow 3.2% to reach £21.8bn, with TV forecast to increase by 1.6%.

Yet, despite the positive forecasts, Hill expects the TV ad market to see flat growth again: “So much is still up in the air [due to Brexit]. I’d expect TV ad spend growth to be flattish again for 2017.”

He admits Facebook and Google have been aggressive in attempts to take budgets away from TV but says the video ad market on the whole is rising, including TV. And indeed online businesses invested £639m in TV ad spend in 2016, an increase of 8% on 2015 and a rate that makes it the sector which now invests the most in TV.

To put this into perspective, it’s over double what the automotive industry (£314m) spent on TV ads in 2016. Hill concludes: “We’re not enemies with digital anymore, but complementary of one another.”

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