UK advertising loses over £1bn during lockdown

04 Aug 2020

The latest published figures by Nielsen have placed the UK government in the top position in advertising as it was highlighted that UK media declined by over £1 billion year on year throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

The lockdown imposed due to the outbreak pushed firms away from advertising with most businesses being forced to shut down. The figures showed that ads running on TV, newspapers and magazines, radio and cinema halved from the start of lockdown on 23 March to the end of June.

There was a 48% drop in ad spending, year-on-year, from £2.3 billion to £1.2 billion.

UK commercial director at Nielsen, Barney Farmer said, “There was no guidebook on how to navigate advertising during the lockdown period, with customers restricted to home environments and an unclear exit strategy.”

It noted that McDonald’s cut its budget by 97% from £43.5 million to £1.3 million during the lockdown, as it had to shut its 1,000 restaurants in the UK and Ireland. 

“We have seen varying approaches to advertising during the lockdown period. Some have increased spend but the majority have cut back.”

Additionally, due to the pause in sporting events including the Premier League, Sky’s revenue dropped by £575 million throughout the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, it lowered its budget to £19 million, a 60% cut.

Farmer said that the PHE was the biggest advertiser in the country during the lockdown. “Public Health England ran an effective campaign to encourage lockdown compliance and raise awareness of best health practices, and its incredible increase in spend reflects the importance of advertising as a communication platform for any public or private body.”

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