Together, online companies represented the second-biggest buyers of spots and sponsorship deals behind the usual suspects of soaps and detergents -- which meant, as you might expect, that P&G was the most visible brand in tv advertising, ahead of Sky and Unilever. We can't say all of this surge in tv advertising is due to Facebook reminding us that we like our friends or Netflix promoting "Better Call Saul." Automotive saw a massive 18% rise in spend, and finance was only just behind with a 17% increase.
The record figures mean that the Advertising Association suggests tv accounts for 26.9% of the UK's near GBP20bn overall advertising spend.
Experts are attributing the strength in tv spending to new technology such as Sky AdSmart, which allows advertisers to reach highly selective geographic zones with small-budget campaigns, as well as a renewed confidence that tv is the channel of choice if you want to raise awareness at speed. I might always suggest that television only really had an identity issue at digital marketing conferences. It was only here that the demise of the channel was continually predicted, while the flow of money actually told a very different story. It was print that was always for the chop, not tv.
The irony here is that just about every digital start-up I've heard of or whose agency I've talked to reveals a single theme -- they all want to get into tv. Time now for the cynic in me to raise a point from an agency insider who reveals that the kickback to an agency for arranging a tv sponsorship is lucrative and so nearly all media plans will encourage a start-up to consider sponsoring a show as well as -- or instead of -- running ads in the break.
However, the unavoidable truth is that tv is once again in rude health -- and, irony alert -- is being propped up not just by the usual FMCGs, carmakers and finance companies you would expect, but the very digital giants that were supposed to be burying the medium.
You can probably wonder what would be happening to television if there was not a general feeling of optimism among consumers and brands but that same question would, of course, apply equally to all channels. The gurus who have been telling us that digital was the only way probably weren't quite ready for the huge issues surrounding click fraud, viewability and ad blocking that are a major fly in the ointment of any argument that tv is done for.
So, just in case a guru ever needs a reality check at a function, just remember to ask that if tv is dead why it is growing faster than the ad industry average, reaching a record high of GBP5.7bn last year. And while you're at it, do remember to point out that the highest-spending new entrant to the market was none other than the arch-nemesis that was due to finally see it off -- none other than Facebook itself.