Charities losing out in internet advertising

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​Charity advertising still tied to direct mail, study finds

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6th October 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Charities are losing out by not shelling out for internet advertising, research shows.

Despite online accounting for almost half of all ad expenditure in the UK, the country’s third sector groups are lagging behind.

Consultancy nfpSynergy compiled data which shows that the proportion of charities’ advertising spending that goes online has doubled from 2.5% in 2011 to 5% in 2016.

But in comparison, overall spending on online advertising has grown from 29.7% of the UK’s total advertising spend in 2011 to 46.2% last year.

Instead the charity sector spends more than half of its advertising budget on direct mail and door drops, which accounted for 56.4% of advertising spending in the sector last year.

But this is a fall from 2011, when direct mail and door drops accounted for 71.2 per cent of all ad spending by charities.

The amount that charities spend on television advertisements has also ballooned in recent years, and accounted for 26.7% of all advertising spending by charities in 2016 compared with 13.7% in 2011.

Charities’ spending on advertising has remained steady at approximately 2% of the total amount of advertising expenditure in the UK.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of nfpSynergy, said: "Charities are either unwilling or unable to use the internet as effectively as the corporate world does. This either is due to the innate cautiousness of charities, or a failure to find techniques that really work."

Saxton said that by focusing so much of advertising spending on direct mail, charities would be "disproportionately affected" by general data protection regulation because so much more of their media investment was in direct mail and marketing.

"One danger is that charities will find it harder and harder to get noticed in an internet world because they aren’t spending in the way that the commercial sector is on digital marketing," he said. 

"So perhaps the wider issue is how good charities are at changing as the world around them changes. No wonder people think charities are behind the times – I wonder when the commercial sector last had direct mail as it biggest slice of advertising expenditure."