Ad spend jumps a record 39.7% YoY from admittedly ‘low base’

Standard Media Index (SMI) has declared that Australia’s COVID-driven advertising market downturn is over, with ad spend jumping a record 39.7% in April.

This time in 2020 Australia’s ad market was in decline as lockdowns rolled out across the country, but thanks to a surge in ad bookings in recent months, and strong early bookings in May, the market is on track to report growth for the financial year ending June.

In April, the highest growth area was digital audio which was up 97.1%, while radio grew 37.6%. Television continued health upward spend with a 44.2% increase, while outdoor spend increased 48.7%.

Cinema even hit growth for the first time since COVID hit, up 11.8%, while magazines also turned positive, rising 3.5%.

The only sector yet to hit growth again is news media, down 12.3%, weighed down by newspapers being down 31.7%.

SMI AU Ad Spend Trends April 2021 [click to enlarge]

“Australia’s advertising market is in unchartered territory as we’ve never before seen such levels of meteoric growth.

“We all know these huge gains are coming from a very low base but even so it’s hugely encouraging to see advertising revenues flow strongly across our major media after such a prolonged period of reduced advertising demand.”

Ractliffe added that forward bookings data shows that May will perform even stronger than April, with outdoor and cinema showing huge growth signs.

On top of that, stronger demand looks to be continuing into June as well.

“Australia’s advertising recovery is being characterised by explosive growth as we can already see the value of confirmed ad spend for the month of May is well above what we saw in April with the total so far 50.4% above that achieved in May last year (ex Digital media),” she said.

“Outdoor media is leading the early May growth with bookings more than doubling year-on-year (126.2%) while bookings to the Cinema media are also rebounding after the forced Cinema closures last year with total bookings for May already up 88%.”

SMI Forward Pacings May 2021 [click to enlarge]

Ad spend this calendar year is now up 9.2% on the same time last year, but total spend is 6.1% shy the same period in 2019.

Ractliffe added: “Given the Australian media market has suffered through the toughest financial year in its history the fact we will report higher ad demand for the financial year is simply incredible.

“It’s a huge testament to the resilience of our industry that we have been able to manage through such a monumental decline in the ad revenues that supports us and to come out the other end in reasonable shape.

“It suggests a great future is ahead for Australian media as we continue to evolve to meet our changing audiences.”


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