B2B spend on TV advertising has doubled since 2018

Much of the growth is being driven by the democratisation of software for SMEs, with web hosting firms Ionos By 1&1 and GoDaddy, as well as financial services brands Sage and Intuit, featuring in the top 10 B2B advertisers on TV last year.

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B2B brands have more than doubled their investment in UK linear TV advertising over the past four years, totalling £108m in 2022, according to Nielsen data provided exclusively to Marketing Week by TV marketing body Thinkbox.

Growth over the period has been consistent, with spend rising 46% between 2018 and 2019 from £51m to £75m. In 2020, investment increased by 5% to £78m, despite the toll Covid-19 was taking on businesses, followed by a further 27% jump in 2021 to £99m.

Total linear TV spend is estimated to have reached £4.73bn in 2021, according to the latest AA/Warc ad spend report, so B2B remains a very small slice of the pie compared to B2C. However, B2B spend is growing at a considerably faster rate, up 112% since 2017 while total linear TV spend has fallen 3% over the same period.

Much of the growth is being driven by the democratisation of software for SMEs, Thinkbox’s research and planning director Matt Hill tells Marketing Week, including accounting software, web design, domain registration and mobile-based payment.

“Much of this is a consequence of the recent shift to ecommerce generally, which is fuelling a boom in SMEs, who are numerous enough to justify national TV campaigns,” he explains.

Source: Nielsen Ad Intel, 2018-2022, TV Spend, %’s show YoY Increase, Thinkbox-created category of B2B businesses

Indeed, according to the data, web hosting firm Ionos By 1&1 was the top B2B advertiser on linear TV in 2022, spending £13.5m in total. That marks a 194% increase compared to the brand’s spend in 2021.

Financial services company Sage Group comes in second with £13.4m in spend, a 39% jump compared to the previous year. In May, the brand launched its above-the-line campaign ‘Helping business flow’, which ran across TV, outdoor, digital and social in multiple markets and was nominated as one of Marketing Week’s best campaigns of 2022.

The third biggest TV advertiser in B2B last year was financial services firm Intuit, which increased spend by 30% to £11.2m. It is followed by accounting software brand Xero, which reduced spend by 7% to £8.4m.

NatWest came in fifth, having quadrupled its B2B linear TV spend by 391% to £7.2m. Despite this, the CMO of NatWest’s B2B fintech spin-off Mettle, Kate Thunnissen, told Marketing Week earlier this year that the brand had “let the ball drop” on brand building in 2022, with plans to pick this back up in 2023.

Direct Line Insurance, Amazon Web Services, GoDaddy, Canva and Squareup make up the rest of the top 10 B2B advertisers on linear TV last year. Combined, the 10 brands accounted for £76.1m of the £108m spent by B2B brands in total.

Hill says: “The increased flexibility and opportunities in TV advertising have opened the door to businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors. The growth in B2B on TV is a good example.

“Although the current economic uncertainty has hit the SME sector as it has most businesses, the overall trend for the last decade suggests this is a long-term growth area, and that TV investment will continue to reflect the increased demand from this sector.”