Digital display ad spend up in the first half of 2022, while paid social remains stable

Latest Ad Intel data from Nielsen records spend returning to pre-pandemic levels across UK media, but advertisers may have to reassess spend in H2 amid the cost of living crisis.

Advertising spend in the first half of 2022 bounced back to pre-pandemic levels across key UK media, according to latest intelligence.

Digital display, outdoor and cinema were the standout performers for H1, with digital display spend up 28% year-on-year. Outdoor had a promising start to the year: with a 54% increase in ad spend due to footfall in transport hubs and retail parks. Cinema advertising surged in spend by more than 1000%, though it ended H1 still around 25% below pre-pandemic levels.

Paid social media advertising was consistent in monthly ad spend in 2022, with standout performances in entertainment and leisure, clothing and accessories, and online retail. But despite a peak in March, ad spend in social media fell to its lowest level in H1 in June.

Entertainment and leisure tops the spending charts

Looking at ad spend across sectors, Nielsen found that entertainment and leisure was 30% up in H1 2022 compared to 2021. Although overall spending in subscription services was up just 3%, Nielsen reported triple-digit growth among the larger players, with certain leading streaming platforms investing heavily in advertising.

Ad spend across the UK’s supermarket chains was up 7%, with discount supermarkets increasing ad spend at a double-digit rate as they try to woo customers from the mainstream and premium competition, Nielsen said. Food delivery services remained one of the categories currently untouched by the impact of the higher cost of living, with ad spend up 70% on last year.

Not all sectors were so buoyant however, Nielsen found. Energy suppliers, both within retail and business, saw spending dive in H1 2022 by 57%. Price comparison website ad spend fell by 8%, which Nielsen noted was a surprise in the current climate of consumers looking for ways to cut their cost.

Wait and see what cost of living criss does to ad spend

However, Nielsen’s Ad Intel data for 2022 reveals that ad spend was up 20% across all media in the first half of the year, and broadly back to pre-COVID levels of spend.

But the growth marginally slowed in Q2 as companies wait to see the impact of cost of living and inflation on consumer purse strings, which may cause advertisers to re-evaluate strategies in the second half of this year.

Nielsen Commercial Director, Barney Farmer, said: “Advertising on a general level has been moving in a positive direction during the earlier parts of 2022, with some nice uplifts across all media channels. However, the headwinds facing the UK economy of inflationary pressures and sluggish growth indicate that we may be going into more challenging times in the second half of the year.

<“Nielsen data suggests that ad spend during a time of high inflation and increased energy costs has remained strong, yet we have seen areas where spending has started predictably to decrease in the second quarter of 2022. As consumers navigate through economic uncertainty, consumer spending might further decrease, causing companies to reassess their ad expenditures in quarters three and four.”