BSkyB widens lead as UK’s biggest ad spender as it looks to ward off BT threat

BSkyB increased its lead as the UK’s biggest ad spender last year as it looked to ward off the threat posed by the launch of BT Sport.

Video: Sky Sports drafted in David Beckham to star in a multimedia push to blunt the impact of the launch of BT Sport.  

According to annual figures compiled by Nielsen, BSkyB upped its spend by 9.63 per cent last year to £264.3m as it looked to showcase its mobile and subscription services to highlight its key points of difference against rivals. It also ran a number of campaigns to highlight its sports services following the launch of BT’s rival service in July.

BT, perhaps surprisingly given its move into sport TV, actually cut its advertising spend last year by 16.63 per cent to £149.8m. Nielsen says that while marketing spend on BT Sport was significant, it wasn’t enough to offset declines in other areas of the BT business, such as its Olympic and broadband advertising.

Elsewhere in the telco sector, TalkTalk’s ad spend almost doubled (90.86 per cent) to £92.5m as it looked to take advantage of price increases by rivals by promoting its cheaper packages and keep its value proposition front of mind.

In the FMCG sector, both Procter and Gamble and Unilever cut their ad spend as they shift away from more traditional formats such as TV to digital. P&G’s ad spend declined by 9.18 per cent to £177.3m, while Unilever’s dropped by 14.3 per cent to £119m.

P&G said at the start of the year that it is investing almost a third of its media spend in digital, social and mobile, which it claims is cheaper and allows better targeting. Rival Unilever invested 17 per cent of its media spend in digital in 2014.

Vodafone also increased its spend by more than a quarter (28.18 per cent) as it promoted the launch of its 4G mobile service with a multi-million pound campaign featuring long-term brand ambassador Star Wars character Yoda. However, rival O2’s spend actually declined last year by 25.5 per cent as it opted for a more low-key approach to its new 4G offering.

Everything Everywhere’s ad spend declined by almost 40 per cent as it cut investment following a big marketing push in 2012 for its 4G service.

Nielsen’s Ad Dynamix is a measure of ad spend on all media, as well as online display and direct mail.

The Top 10 Biggest UK Ad Spenders

Rank Advertiser 2013 
% Year on Year
1 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd 264,338,785 241,106,331 9.63
2 Procter & Gamble Ltd 177,257,396 195,182,834 -9.18
3 Bt Ltd 149,788,119 179,677,909 -16.63
4 Unilever Uk Ltd 119,100,702 138,979,674 -14.30
5 Tesco Plc 116,269,526 117,403,761 -0.96
6 Asda Stores Ltd 97,035,247 109,139,356 -11.09
7 Talktalk Grp 92,545,979 48,486,735 90.86
8 Virgin Media 88,357,222 106,062,440 -16.69
9 Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc 81,522,591 76,681,050 6.31
10 Dfs Furniture Co Ltd 75,682,183 79,895,687 -5.27

To see the full list click here