Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign, editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

TV remains top dog for brands going into 2015

As 2014 hurtles towards its finale, all advertising data points to a year of two halves - part-fuelled, aptly enough, by football.

Last week, the Advertising Association and Warc estimated that UK adspend grew at its fastest rate in three years in the second quarter, rising 8.5 per cent. The Fifa World Cup, while far from England’s finest hour, played its part in shifting the dial.

It will be another strong year for internet advertising, tipped to rise by 15 per cent in 2014, helped by an anticipated growth of 56 per cent in mobile – a figure that, though revised down, is still rampant. But it was radio that recorded the strongest year-on-year hike in the second quarter – up 18 per cent to £119 million, thanks to renewed spend from the retail sector.

More modest growth all round is expected in the second half of the year. But, amid all the fluctuations, the enduring success of television is the most striking trend.

If brands really are starting to lose faith in TV ads, as is so often claimed, they are hiding it well. This year is set to be the fifth consecutive year of growth, and the sector is now on track to exceed £5 billion for the first time.

'Internet companies have some key issues to address if they are going to lure spend away from The X Factor'

While broadcasters’ online players are helping their video-on-demand spend rise nearly 30 per cent this year to £160 million, it is those quaint ad breaks that remain the engine of the sector, responsible for a 90 per cent share. From the quantifiable success of the Foster’s ads, which won the IPA’s Effectiveness Grand Prix last week, to the impact of Lego’s takeover that swept the boards at the Media Week Awards, TV’s seismic role in the mix remains irrefutable.

Beyond spots, the likes of ITV and Iceland’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! sponsorship – which led to a co-branded Bushtucker Trial board game – and Channel 5’s content partnership with Dixons around The Gadget Show continue to move the game on too.

The pure-play internet companies have some key issues to address if they are really going to lure spend away from the likes of The X Factor, not least viewability. Having half of an ad seen for one second might feel like a step forward for display standards in 2014, but it’s far from convincing in the real world.

Similarly, the debacle of those Mercedes-Benz ads – which were proved to have been "viewed" by more robots than humans – only make those tried-and-trusted 30-second spots all the more attractive.

So, despite suggestions that ITV’s upfront was a tad lightweight and Channel 4’s pitch to adland next week will be set to the backdrop of low ratings, both – like those around them – are likely to post ad growth of at least 4 per cent this year.