Ad spend down 4.8% in October: ‘Market is well and truly leaving the COVID crisis behind’

The media agency-funded ad market was down just 4.8% in October – the lowest decline since September last year – in a development the Standard Media Index (SMI) said indicates “the ad market is well and truly leaving the COVID crisis behind”.

The AFL and NRL grand finals boosted TV bookings by 12.7% for the month, while metropolitan TV spend was up 15.7% year-on-year.

Social media sites experienced the greatest growth in October, growing by 45.5%, with Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat and LinkedIn all up at least 34% year-on-year.

October figures. Source: SMI [Click to enlarge]

SMI’s AUNZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe, confirmed that November and December forward pacings data indicates demand for those two months is also up year-on-year.

November and December forward pacings data. Source: SMI [Click to enlarge]

“The October SMI data has confirmed the ad market is well and truly leaving the COVID crisis behind, while future demand is also quickly accelerating in both November and December,” Ractliffe said.

“Our forward pacings data – which compares the current level of confirmed future ad spend to that at the same time last year – shows November advertising demand is already 10 percentage points ahead of where it was in November 2019 and for December the level of confirmed ad demand is now 12 percentage points higher, and that increase in demand is the highest ever seen.”

The November TV market, currently experiencing a 14.2% increase, is helped by a year-on-year anomaly – three State of Origin games were aired on Nine during the month due to COVID-19; they are usually broadcast much earlier in the year.

However, Seven did not broadcast any cricket during the month, unlike last year. The TV network began Federal Court action against Cricket Australia this week due to the impact of delayed matches on the broadcasting schedule.

“The early signs for November are very encouraging and show the market is now on the cusp of returning to growth as there was a week’s trading still to occur when that early November data was collected,” Ractliffe added.

October also saw a continued decline for programmatic; premium content sites overtook the category to become the month’s third largest digital sector. Pure play video, which includes YouTube and TV broadcast video on demand (BVOD) services, rose by 15.5%. Regional TV (up 8%) and regional radio (down 2.7%) performed best out of the traditional media channels.

From a category perspective, food-produce-dairy shot up by 42%, but the pandemic’s impact is still being felt across other key vertical. Travel fell 76% year-on-year, and movies-cinema-theme park spend dropped by 87%.


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