New figures have revealed that the UK government is increasing its budget for online marketing and advertising at a time when the rest of its publicity initiatives are facing budget freezes and cuts.
The Central Office of Information (COI) published figures today showing that the year on year spend for government advertising and marketing budget was almost unchanged in the 12 months up to the end of March 2010, at £532 million. The previous year’s total was £540 million.
The COI is responsible for co-ordinating official advertising, marketing and communications, and its figures revealed that the budget for traditional advertising media, such as television, radio and the press dropped by 9.5 per cent to £193 million from £211 million.
However, the spend on online advertising and marketing increased by 9 per cent to £44 million, bringing the total up to 18 per cent of the government’s advertising and marketing budget.
The COI said that it was able to negotiate reduced advertising rates in the media markets because of its financial clout, and as a result had forced some £204 million in discounts – a 48 per cent saving – in comparison with government departments who handled their own campaigns.
It also saved an additional £52 million year on year by cutting spending on publications, PR and events – and by focusing on online marketing rather than the older, more costly and less effective media.
However, the COI faces a budget threat from the government’s austerity programme. Ministers are looking for cuts of up to 50 per cent, and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has already pulled the plug on most funding for the Change4Life anti-obesity campaign, according to the Guardian newspaper.