Charity spending on digital and cinema ads almost doubles

Coeliac UK television advert
Coeliac UK television advert

Charities’ spending on advertising rose by 6 per cent over the past year, with expenditure on digital and cinema almost doubling, according to figures obtained by Third Sector.

Data from the market research firm Nielsen shows that charities spent an estimated £458.8m on advertising in the year to June, compared with £433.4m in the previous year.

Digital and cinema advertising were the biggest growth areas for expenditure, with spending on digital rising by 89 per cent over the period, from £2.9m to £5.5m, while spending on cinema rose by 78 per cent, from £3.1m to £5.5m year on year.

The only medium with a decline in expenditure was press advertising, where spending fell by 22 per cent, from £32.5m to £25.3m.

Outdoor advertising was the third biggest growth area, with expenditure increasing by 36 per cent, from £5.5m to £7.4m in the year to June.

Spending on radio and television advertising also rose significantly over the period: by 17 per cent for radio, from £12.7m to £14.9m, and 15 per cent for television, from £104.5m to £120.5m.

Figures from Nielsen in May showed that charities' spend on television advertising rose by 20 per cent in 2015 compared with the previous year

The latest figures showed that expenditure on door drops rose by 6 per cent, from £13.6m to £14.4m, while spending on direct mail rose by 3 per cent. Direct mail was the medium that received the most investment from charities last year, with £265.3m, up from £258.6m, spent on it – more than half the total amount spent across all mediums.

Digital advertising spend might be more than that reported above, a media planner told Third Sector.

The source, who asked not to be named, said the methodology used to estimate the figures – Nielsen monitors more than 700 websites for daily advertising activity – was considered less reliable than that for other channels.

The source attributed the decline in press advertising spend to the decline in newspaper circulation. He said advertisers were shifting spend in this area to digital advertising including social media instead.

Commenting on the figures, Daniel Fluskey, head of policy and research at the Institute of Fundraising, said the fall in expenditure on press advertising was likely to be because charities’ results from such adverts were deteriorating.

He was unable to say whether the past year’s negative press coverage of charities had also caused some to refrain from positioning their brands in publications which were critical of charities, saying that individual charities would be better placed to comment.

Fluskey said the increased focus on digital advertising was mainly a move by charities to reach their audiences in a different way but he acknowledged that the criticisms of certain other methods of communication over the past year might have caused some to want to diversify beyond, for example, direct mail.

He also said the increased expenditure in advertising overall was likely to be due in part to some small and medium charities advertising for the first time, as well as because of large established charities changing the make-up of their advertising portfolios.

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