Digital ad spend drops for first time since 2009 as industry wrestles multiple issues

Digital ad spend has gone backwards for the first time since April 2009, with spend during February down 1.7% year-on-year.

The decline comes as as brands and marketers boycott YouTube over fears ads are running next to offensive content with the likes of Holden, Kia, and the Australian Government suspending advertising on the video platform.

However, overnight Google has sought to downplay the level of exposure advertisers have had to “unsafe content” saying only a “fraction of a percent” of ads ever appeared alongside offensive content.

In February, digital ad spend was down 1.7% to $135.3m year-on-year.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Schulze said in a statement: “It’s quite a milestone as we’ve reported on the growth of the Australian digital media for 94 consecutive months, and I don’t ever expect any other media to replicate that record.

“But we’ve also just released SMI’s NZ data for February and the trend was also similar there for digital with agency ad spend back 0.3% in February.

“There has been plenty of recent widespread publicity of issues within the digital media and clearly SMI’s media agency partners are acting quickly on behalf of their advertiser clients to reassess digital budgets.”

Most of the month’s decline was felt in the content sites sector – websites that employ content creators to attract audiences – where spend fell by $5.9m in February compared to last year.

Bookings to the search websites were also down slightly (-1.6%) while ad spend to the smaller sector of pure play – video sites had a higher percentage decline of 10.3%. Ad spend on social websites was flat for the month but programmatic spend jumped 35% year-on-year.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.