SMI figures show ad spend back to pre-COVID levels

Latest Standard Media Index figures for May show Australia has had its fourth consecutive month of ad spend growth, and the highest May results in five years

It’s been another month of strong advertising gains, with SMI reporting total Australian ad spend for the month of May soaring over 70 per cent year-on-year and exceeding pre-Covid results for the first time since the crisis began.

The latest monthly Standard Media Index (SMI) report found Australia’s total ad spend in May was up 70.8 per cent compared to last May’s results, reaching $715 million (May 2020: $418m). This also reflected a 4.5 per cent lift, or $30.7m, on May 2019 ad spend, normalised to account for the Federal election that occurred in that 2019 timeframe.

It’s also the highest May total since 2016. What’s more, it represents the fourth consecutive month of increased advertising spend in 2021 and shows ad spend back at pre-Covid levels.

SMI A/NZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe, said all major media reported growth in May, with TV and digital both back to pre-Covid levels.

“It’s really quite a remarkable turnaround given the disastrous results reported at this time last year,” she said. “This level of growth is clearly unprecedented and it’s safe to say that none of us will ever see such extraordinary levels of growth again.”

SMI data showed about $300 million in extra media investment coming into the market compared to May last year. And Ractcliffe expected stronger ad demand to shine through June 2021 results, with SMI’s forward pacing data showing value to be already 36.4 per cent above that reported in June 2021.

SMI resultsCredit: SMI
SMI results

The biggest gains in May were in the out-of-home (OOH) category, which had been significantly impacted by initial Covid lockdowns. SMI figures showed OOH had a 198 per cent year-on-year increase in May compared to the same time last year. Within this figure, programmatic outdoor broke through the $1 million/month revenue mark for the first time.

As to categories pushing ad spend forward, it was retail, food/produce/dairy, insurance and restaurant leading the way in May, with all growing budgets beyond May 2020 levels. Ractliffe also highlighted total travel bookings in May lifted $31.3m compared to the same month last year.

Other highlights from the latest SMI figures include the emergence of the social media sector as digital’s second largest for the first time in May.

Overall, stronger May results pushed Australian ad spend for the 2021 calendar year up 20.1 per cent on last year, while the financial year-to-date results have now also turned positive, up 2.9 per cent.

The current question is whether the latest Sydney lockdown may impact final figures for FY21. Ractliffe told CMO initial conversations suggested there would not be too much of an impact, with the exception possibly being in outdoor.

“The thinking seems to be we’ve now learned how to manage these events given all the Melbourne lockdowns so it’s not quite the shock it used to be,” she added. "There’s also the sense that this lockdown is likely to be the last given the growing level of vaccinations and most businesses are planning for growth.’’

Don’t miss out on the wealth of insight and content provided by CMO A/NZ and sign up to our weekly CMO Digest newsletters and information services here. 

You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page





Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Thanks for nice information regarding Account-based Marketing. PRO IT MELBOURNE is best SEO Agency in Melbourne have a team of profession...


Cultivating engaging content in Account-based Marketing (ABM)

Read more

The best part: optimizing your site for SEO enables you to generate high traffic, and hence free B2B lead generation. This is done throug...

Sergiu Alexei

The top 6 content challenges facing B2B firms

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...


10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

NetSuite started out as a cloud-based provider of Enterprise Resource Planning software or as NetSuite solution provider, which companies...


NetSuite to acquire Bronto's digital marketing platform for US$200m

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in