Ad spend in June the highest first half spend since SMI measurement began

The Australian ad market’s remarkable recovery from its COVID doldrums continued in June, with ad spend going past pre-COVID levels of June 2019 and also being the highest ever month recorded in a first half in Standard Media Index history.

However, in late June Sydney went into lockdown, with several other capital cities following suit for set periods.

Bookings grew 44.3% year-on-year for the month of June, reaching $754 million, higher than any month in the January to June period since SMI began collecting data in 2009.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said such figures show that advertising’s recover is sustainable moving forward. “It’s simply an incredible accomplishment to have achieved such a level of ad spend when the market is still in recovery mode. Who would have even thought this could be possible a year ago?

“And what’s even better is that strong market figures like these provides certainty that this advertising recovery is sustainable despite the uncertainties we now are learning to live with in this new COVID world.”

SMI June 2021 % 2020/21 FY Ad Spend Trends [click to enlarge]

Digital media reported a record high result in June, up 39%. Meanwhile, two sectors that suffered worst from COVID, outdoor (146.9%) and cinema (367.9%, had the steepest rise in bookings.

Even magazines and newspapers recorded growth in ad bookings for June, with physical newspapers up 0.8% and magazines rising 27.5%.

June was the third consecutive month when ad spend grew over 40% year-on-year, helping June quarter bookings to grow 53% on the previous corresponding period.

SMI’s forward pacing data shows that August ad spend is now 83% of that in August 2020, despite the month having only just started. September bookings are already at 38% of last year’s total.

Total bookings for the quarter are now just -0.4% behind pre-pandemic levels in June 2019.

“Given the despair felt across the industry last year when the market simply crashed in the June quarter as the full brunt of the COVID crisis was felt, it’s quite phenomenal that a year later we can see total bookings for the quarter are just $9 million (or -0.4%) below the last `normal’ pre-COVID equivalent quarter in June 2019,” Ractliffe said.

SMI Financial Year Quarterly Growth Trends [click to enlarge]

Looking at the first six months of the year, Australian national marketing spend grew 25% year-on-year. TV Bookings grew 25%, with outdoor up 22.2% and radio rising 20.2% on the same six months in 2020.

Ractliffe said: “It’s obviously been an incredibly challenging financial year for all media, with SMI showing the total market back by 6.4% in the first half of the year (July to December) but then the market switched into recovery mode as demand soared and the value of bookings jumped 25%.

“The SMI data highlights the size of the swing back to growth with ad spend falling more than $250 million in the first half of the financial year, but then jumping by more than $750 million in the following six months.”


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