Ad spend hits record high in August despite ongoing lockdowns

Advertising spend is continuing to outstrip pre-pandemic levels in a trend described as “extraordinary” by the Standard Media Index.

Figures for August showed marketing spend hit a record high, almost 27% more than the same month last year and 12% above 2019 levels.

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Expenditure even surpassed 2018 levels by more than 4%, the data revealed.

Forward bookings for September are also encouraging, SMI AU/NZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe said.

“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,’’ she said.

“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% above last year’s September result (ex digital).”

Ad spend for the first eight months of the calendar year is now 1.2%,  or $62 million, above the same period in 2019 and just 0.8%, or $40 million, below the all-time market high achieved for this period in 2018.

Ractliffe said the digital and TV media both reported record levels of August ad spend, with all 10 of SMI’s largest product categories reporting levels above pre-pandemic levels.

Ongoing COVID messaging saw the Government category deliver the strongest percentage growth in August, up 94.5%, while the automotive category also continued its recovery with ad spend lifting 11.6%.

But the extended NSW and Victorian lockdowns blunted the earlier recovery seen in travel, the data said.

The live entertainment market also remained subdued, down 18%. Spend on streaming TV boosted the in-home category, however, with spend up 55%.

Overall digital bookings climbed almost 29% year-on-year with TV bookings up by a similar number to break through the $300m mark for the first time since the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“But the difference with the Rio Olympics is they were held across the full month of August while the Tokyo Olympics were split between the end of July and the start of August, with that timing issue meaning the 2021 August TV result is at a record level,” Ractliffe said.

“And while Seven’s broadcast TV bookings obviously soared, this time we also saw a huge increase in bookings the related streaming service with many agencies booking directly to ensure their spot on that platform rather than buying BVOD bookings programmatically as is the usual case with that inventory.’’


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