SMI: Aussie ad spend on track for growth this financial year

April figures show record 39.7 per cent growth while May figures look even stronger

Fresh SMI Australian advertising figures show record 39.7 per cent ad spend growth during April and put the industry on track to report growth this financial year.

According to the April figures, ad demand soared 39.7 per cent year-on-year to $584.4 million. SMI said initial figures for May show advertising demand could be even stronger at 50.4 per cent, leading to stellar Q2 2021 results. The figures are a marked contrast from 12 months ago, in the peak of the first COVID-19 lockdown.

During April, five of the seven major media reported double-digit growth, with TV bookings up 44.2 per cent. Digital bookings are also up 45.8 per cent, while outdoor was up 48.7 per cent year-on-year.

SMI A/NZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe, said Australia’s advertising recovery is being “characterised by explosive growth”. Across media channels, outdoor led May growth with bookings more than doubling year-on-year (+126.2 per cent). Cinema bookings are also on the up, showing 88 per cent YoY growth for May.

Ractliffe said things also looked buoyant in June, with the total value of bookings right now for the month just 2.3 per cent ($7.2m) below those reported for all of June 2020.

“Australia’s advertising market is in unchartered territory as we’ve never before seen such levels of meteoric growth,’’ Ractliffe commented. “We all know these huge gains are coming from a very low base but even so it’s hugely encouraging to see advertising revenues flow strongly across our major media after such a prolonged period of reduced advertising demand.”  

Related: Report: Two-speed ad recovery underway

SMI also looked at verticals spending the most dollars during April. It found online retailers significant grew TV investment but reduced spend on digital media, with lower investment in programmatic and search sectors not offset by higher spending on social media platforms. Discount retailers, however, grew both TV and digital media ad spend.  

Ractliffe also expected TV to find itself in more competitive circumstances from May onwards as other channels like outdoor and cinema resurge.  

Another sector on the rebound is travel, which is showing 525 per cent year-on-year ad spend growth, or an extra $15 million in spend. TV’s share of this ad pot has lessened as outdoor once more becomes a media channel of choice and radio continues to perform.  

Despite such strong results, SMI cautioned Australian ad demand was below what it’s reporting in most other ‘sophisticated’ media markets. Internationally, Canada is reportedly leading the way with April growth of 74.9 per cent, although it was one of the worst markets affected by COVID last year, followed by New Zealand (56.1 per cent), the US (+43.2 per cent), then Australia and the UK (+24 per cent).   

Nevertheless, SMI found stronger April results have now pushed Australian ad spend this calendar year up 9.2 per cent on last year, with a total 6.1 per cent off levels achieved for the same period in 2019.  

Financial year-to-date results have significantly improved as a result and ad demand is now relatively stable at -0.9 per cent, ensuring a positive financial year result once the higher May and June data is added.  

“Given the Australian media market has suffered through the toughest financial year in its history the fact we will report higher ad demand for the financial year is simply incredible,’’ Ractliffe said.  

“It’s a huge testament to the resilience of our industry that we have been able to manage through such a monumental decline in the ad revenues that supports us and to come out the other end in reasonable shape. It suggests a great future is ahead for Australian media as we continue to evolve to meet our changing audiences.”

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