Spending by charities on television advertising rose by 20 per cent year on year to £123m in 2015, and their total advertising spend has increased by a third over the past five years, according to figures obtained by Third Sector.
Data from the market research firm Nielsen shows that charities spent £123.3m on TV advertising in 2015, compared with £102.6m in the previous year.
It also shows that the total advertising spend by charities – across TV, cinema, direct mail, door-drops, outdoor, press and radio – has risen by 31 per cent over the past five years, from £363m in 2010 to £476m last year, while investment by organisations across all sectors remained broadly flat over the same period at about £10.8bn.
But separate data from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board shows that the number of people who viewed charity adverts grew by just 3 per cent year on year, from 24.9 million viewers in 2014 to 25.6 million last year.
Viewing figures in the first four months of 2016 remained static compared with the same period the previous year, at about 7.2 million, according to Barb.
Lisa Bainbridge, head of campaigns at Coeliac UK, which ran its first TV advert in September, said: "The public obviously has some issues around direct marketing, so charities are going to be looking toward new sources to gather support.
"Television is becoming a little more accessible now. It’s good value for money. Because there are more digital channels that go right across the spectrum of TV programming, you can get some good deals and you can target your advert in a more effective way than you could in the past."
But Gen Tompkins, client development director at the media planning agency MC&C, which works with charities including the British Heart Foundation, WaterAid and Oxfam, said that in the case of TV the expenditure figures could give a misleading impression of activity by charities. For example, a charity that advertised on ITV in the evening could spend far more than a charity that did so on a digital channel during the day, she said, but the daytime advertiser would receive a lot more airtime.
She said growth in TV advertising among charities was slowing, partly because of the limitations charities have faced in recent months in contacting prospective donors by telephone.
The Information Commissioner announced last summer that charities should not contact supporters who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service unless they had explicit permission to do so. Charities such as the RNLI and Cancer Research UK are introducing opt-in-only policies for contacting people.
"Opt-in is causing a real problem in the marketplace," said Tompkins. "That’s going to affect volumes, so we may well see advertisers pull money out."
New research from the Institute of Fundraising and the online market research agency fast.MAP shows that direct-response television advertising is 1.4 times more engaging than the average fundraising channel, which they say makes it the most engaging channel available.
DRTV received an engagement score of 140 on fast.MAP’s index, putting it ahead of direct mail and significantly ahead of telephone fundraising in terms of engagement.
For more on charities advertising on television, see the June edition of Third Sector, out next week.