SMI: August ad spend continues to break records

Latest advertising expenditure figures for first eight months of 2021 up 1.2 per cent on 2019 results

Australia’s advertising spend has hit another record, with August figures up 26.6 per cent on last year’s tally and 11.6 per cent higher than 2019 results.

The latest Standard Media Index (SMI) report shows August advertising expenditure was worth $692 million for the month of August. The result included $301 million on TV advertising spend, up 29 per cent year-on-year and the highest TV result since the 2016 Rio Olympics. There was also $253 million allocated to digital channels, a 28.6 per cent increase on bookings in August 2020.

The result means ad spend for the first eight months of 2021 are up 1.2 per cent, or $62 million, above the same period in 2019, and just $40 million off the highest-ever SMI recorded result for this period in 2018.

SMI managing director, Jane Ractliffe, noted August is the sixth consecutive month of year-on-year growth in Australian ad spend. While the results were boosted by the last week of the Tokyo Olympics, it’s equally clear the results show a robust ad market, she said.

For example, all of SMI’s 10 largest product categories are reporting levels of media investment well above pre-COVID levels in August, with only six categories reporting any decline.

“Never would anyone have expected the Australian ad market to be hitting a record high so soon after such a prolonged advertising recession, and also while our two largest states remain in lockdown,” Ractcliffe commented.

“But not only are we seeing a record month of ad spend in August, we can also see with the SMI Forward Pacings data that the growth will continue into September with ad spend already 5 per cent above last year’s September result, excluding digital.”

Delving into the detail, Ractcliffe said Seven’s broadcast TV bookings clearly soared off the back of the Olympics. But there was also a hefty increase in the related streaming service, with many agencies booking directly rather than buying BVOD bookings programmatically – as is usual with that kind of inventory.

Another big driver was COVID messaging. This saw the government sector again delivering the strongest percentage growth in August, up +94.5 per cent year-on-year, making it the third-largest category in the month. The automotive category also showed evidence of its recovery, with ad spend lifting 11.6 per cent in August to now be up 19 per cent for the first two months of the financial year.

Related: 12 examples of brands pushing the vaccination cause

Streaming TV services are another standout for ad spend, pushing the in-home entertainment category up by 55 per cent in total. Food delivery services also continue to grow, with restaurants showing 32 per cent growth in ad spend in August.

By contrast, travel and tourism have been blunted by extended NSW and Victorian lockdowns. According to SMI, total ad spend this month is just $5 million higher, placing this former top 10-spending category in 23rd position for the month of August.

Another area showing the prolonged impacts of COVID is live entertainment market, which is back another 18 per cent in August.

Overall, more than $1 billion in ad spend has returned to the market over this period with the total up 27.8 per cent.

Across channels, video was the big driver, with digital video up 72.9 per cent in August 2021 and total video up 31.4 per cent. Outdoor advertising was up 28.3 per cent, audio up 22.4 per cent and magazines up 11.7 per cent. 

SMI figures for July reported 41.8 per cent growth in total ad bookings compared to July 2020, buoyed by the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

August 21 SMI dataCredit: SMI
August 21 SMI data

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