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Ad spend on newspapers and magazines fell by over 20% in 2017, new SMI figures reveal

The 2017 calendar year was disastrous for print media ad bookings, new Standard Media Index (SMI) figures have confirmed, with media agency spend falling 22.3% across newspapers and 20.8% for magazines.

Even with the addition of the outlets’ digital offerings, newspapers were still down 20.7%, after a 16.9% decline across their digital revenues. Magazines were down 17.7%, once a slight 0.4% increase in digital bookings was factored into the equation.

The digital bookings do not include programmatic advertising.

The Christmas period did little to alleviate traditional media’s suffering with media agency ad bookings in newspapers falling 25.6% in the month of December compared to 2016’s figures. The interim digital booking figures also indicate newspapers’ digital properties have suffered a 16.9% decline. Overall, newspapers were subjected to a 26.6% decline in ad spend in December.

Magazines also had a rough Christmas period, with December 2017 ad bookings down 44.9% compared to the same month in 2016. Digital magazine ad bookings were up 3.8%, taking the category’s overall December decline to 36.9%.

The results for magazines are even worse than those released at the end of 2016, when spend across print fell 6.6% compared to the 2015 calendar year. In 2016, print newspapers suffered a 24.0% decline compared to the year prior.

Traditional television largely avoided the bloodbath, suffering a minor decline of 0.7% across the 2017 calendar year. Television’s digital offerings, excluding programmatic, climbed by 3.4%. Television as a total category declined by 0.6% in 2017.

Where media agencies spent their clients’ money in 2017 compared to 2016 | Source: SMI

December helped television’s numbers, with traditional TV up 6.1% for the month and digital TV climbing 22.2% (interim results). The category climbed overall by 6.7% in December. TV’s December figures could have been assisted by The Ashes being on home turf, SMI noted.

The biggest winner from media agency bookings across SMI’s categories in 2017 was ‘Digital (unaligned to traditional media)’, which grew by 12.3%. Outdoor also climbed by 7.3%.

Traditional radio climbed by 2.3% and digital radio was up by 29.6%. Due to the small amounts still being spent on digital radio however, radio’s overall climb as a category was limited to 3.3%.

Cinema ad bookings grew by 2.8% across 2017.

Television had a strong December | Source: SMI

With the figures added together, media agency ad spend climbed by 0.7% in 2017 compared to the year prior – taking the total to $7.11 billion.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ratcliffe (formerly Schulze) said the record calendar year was surprising given 2016 played host to the Rio Olympics and the federal election – which traditionally lead to increased advertising ad spend.

“This time last year the market was extremely cautious as there were no scheduled events in 2017 that were expected to spur advertising demand,” she said.

“But you never know what’s around the corner, and in the second half of this year, we’ve seen especially strong growth from the government category due to advertising surrounding the same-sex marriage debate and the Queensland election, with the category providing an extra $53.6 million to the market in this period.”

Ratcliffe noted the retail market had been unexpectedly quiet during the Christmas shopping period of December, with total spending falling 7.5% across the month. The weakest sub-sector of retail was food and alcohol retailers, which scaled back their spending by 13.7% in December 2017 compared to 2016. Discount stores and online retail advertisers on the other hand, lifted their spend 22.2% in December 2017.

2018 has a bright outlook, according to Ratcliffe, with the Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics and Soccer World Cup expected to attract “unusually large ad spend”.

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