Comparethemarket ads lead way as online firms become top TV spenders

Comparison sites and Amazon boost spending on the small screen – but Google and Facebook cut campaigns

Digital businesses- online-only companies such as Amazon and traditional firms promoting online services – spent a record £639m on TV ad campaigns in 2016 to become the biggest-spending group of advertisers on the small screen.

Traditional media such as newspapers and magazines have been hit hard by advertisers switching their campaigns to online platforms such as Google and Facebook. However, spending on TV campaigns by online businesses climbed 8% last year, pushing the category above food spending, which fell by 10% to £627m.

The online business that spentmost on TV ads last year was the parent of Comparethemarket, famous for its meerkat campaign, , which spent £39m.

Top five TV advertisers
Top five TV advertisers

Big spenders also included MoneySupermarket and Amazon. Moneysupermarket, whose campaign featuring a bodyguard who grabs his crotch was the most-complained about of the year, increased its spending by 6% year on year.

Amazon increased its spending by 28% to £34.3m, as it promoted products including its TV service.

Betting firms, which are facing the prospect of a ban on daytime TV adverts , spent a total of £50m promoting their online betting services.

The main spenders included Bet365, which has used the actor Ray Winstone to front its campaigns, and Paddy Power which spent a combined total of just over £11m.

Google and Facebook reduced their TV spend last year, as did Netflix. The three companies spent only a relatively small £15m on TV ads between them.

“For online brands in particular, which usually have little or no physical presence, TV’s ability to create emotional connections with large audiences is vital,” said Lindsey Clay, chief executive of TV marketing body Thinkbox, which published the research.

A total of £5.27bn was spent on TV advertising last year, up 0.2% on 2015.

The 8% rise in total digital spending on TV saved the television ad market from overall decline, as many businesses held back on advertising as a result of uncertainty after the Brexit vote.

Spending on advertising cosmetics and personal care dropped 3% to £439m, while entertainment and leisure was flat at £419m.

The companies whose ads were most viewed were Procter & Gamble, Sky, Reckitt Benckiser, BT and Unilever.


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Apple leads race to become world's first $1tn company
Tech giants likely to pass record valuation if share price rises echo 2017 performance with Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook in with a chance

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent

03, Jan, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Tech giants may face billions of pounds in fines from new UK watchdog
Competition regulator wants new Digital Markets Unit to have power to levy huge penalties if firms abuse code of conduct

Mark Sweney

08, Dec, 2020 @1:19 PM

Article image
Social media firms serve as gateway for scammers, says finance watchdog
FCA threatens action unless platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do not toughen up against fraudsters

Kalyeena Makortoff Banking correspondent

28, Sep, 2021 @5:41 PM

Article image
EU stumbles in plan to levy 3% digital tax on major firms
Agreement to take action against companies such as Facebook and Google runs into opposition

Jennifer Rankin Brussels correspondent

06, Nov, 2018 @6:29 PM

Article image
Channel 4 in European TV ad alliance to take on Google and Facebook
Deal will allow advertisers to run campaigns on video-on-demand that could potentially reach up to 160 million viewers

Mark Sweney

13, Nov, 2017 @7:53 PM

Article image
Google, Apple and Microsoft report record-breaking profits
‘Perfect positive storm’ for big tech as pandemic fuels huge quarterly sales and stock market gains

Rupert Neate and Dominic Rushe

27, Jul, 2021 @8:54 PM

Article image
Labour calls for closer scrutiny of tech firms and their algorithms
Industrial strategy paper demands supervision of unseen and automated bits of digital economy whose outcomes have real impact on people and society

Juliette Garside

18, Dec, 2016 @6:12 PM

Article image
Yahoo: the rise and fall of an internet pioneer
Co-founder Jerry Yang has stepped down from the board, the company is undergoing a strategic review, competitors smell blood in the water – what next?

Dominic Rushe in New York

20, Jan, 2012 @2:23 PM

Article image
Google and Facebook in bidding war over Waze travel app company
Search pioneer reportedly made approach after social network's $1bn offer was rebuffed, in move that could boost its maps app. By Charles Arthur

Charles Arthur

24, May, 2013 @2:14 PM

Article image
Is it time to break up the tech giants such as Facebook? | Larry Elliott
Amazon, Facebook and Google are as dominant as Standard Oil and AT&T were. But breaking them up is not going to be easy

Larry Elliott

25, Mar, 2018 @12:14 PM