LONDON: Online businesses are now the biggest TV advertisers in the UK, according to a new industry study that also revealed £5.27bn was invested in TV advertising in 2016.

Thinkbox, the TV marketing body, said TV advertising in the UK increased 0.2% year-on-year, the seventh consecutive year that TV advertising revenue has grown in the UK, even though spending was dampened by business uncertainty caused by the decision last June to leave the European Union.

The overall findings are in line with data from the AA/WARC Expenditure Report, which estimates that the total UK advertising market grew to £21.1bn in 2016, up 4.4%, with TV advertising accounting for a quarter (25.3%). The UK ad market is forecast to reach £21.8bn in 2017, up 3.2%, with TV advertising growing by 1.6%.

Basing its findings on information from commercial broadcasters and measurement firm Nielsen, Thinkbox emphasised how online businesses increased their investment in TV advertising in 2016.

Online businesses, including major brands such as Amazon, Just Eat and Netflix, spent a total of £639m on TV last year, up 8% on 2015.

According to Nielsen, the online businesses who spent the most on TV included Amazon (£34.3m, up 39% from 2015), owner BGL Group (£38.8m, down 4%) and Moneysupermarket (£25.9m, up 6%).

With online businesses establishing themselves as the biggest spenders on TV advertising, they edged out other categories, such as food (£627m, down 10%), cosmetics and personal care (£439m, down 3%), entertainment and leisure (£419m, no change) and motors (£314m, up 2%).

Thinkbox added that FMCG giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) was the most viewed TV advertiser in 2016, according to data from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB). P&G TV ads achieved 34.8bn views, up 14% year-on-year.

The remaining top five TV advertisers in terms of ad viewing figures were Sky (24.6bn views, up 17%), Reckitt Benckiser (21.2bn, up 4%), BT (15.7bn, up 15%) and Unilever (14.6bn, down 28%).

"Advertisers invest in TV because it works. TV is a trusted environment for brands," said Lindsey Clay, Chief Executive of Thinkbox.

"It is a place they want to be seen, where they can rub shoulders with high quality shows that are important parts of people's lives. Its trustworthiness and quality are two of the reasons why TV is the most effective form of advertising," she added.

Elsewhere, the report also revealed that last year saw 837 new or returning advertisers on TV, that the cost of TV advertising was 28% cheaper in real terms than a decade ago, and that commercial TV reaches 91.9% of the UK every week.

Data sourced from Thinkbox; additional data by Warc staff