SMI: TV spend falls despite surge in election related political ads

The latest figures show total media agency spend contracted 0.8% in May despite a surge in spending by the major political parties.

Malcolm TurnbullAccording to Standard Media Index (SMI), the Federal Election campaign has failed to deliver a big enough boost to the ad market to prevent a negative result in agency spend, despite the poll being called on May 9 and the first three weeks of the campaign falling within the calendar month.

While print categories newspapers and magazines were the worst impacted – recording double digit declines – both digital and television also went backward, year-on-year, falling 2.8% and 1.5%, respectively.

In terms of agency spend in the TV market, spend fell to $287.2m, after a decline of $4.824m, with Ten being the major beneficiary in May, with its share rising from 22% last year to 25.3% – in part on the back of the strength of cooking franchise Masterchef.

Most of that share appears to have come at the expense of Nine which saw its share fall from 38.1% to 35.4% (down 2.7%), despite having brought forward The Voice this year. Seven was down just over half-a-point, falling from 39.8% to 39.3% (down 0.6%).

“The SMI numbers for May 2016 once again confirm that Network Ten has momentum and continues to grow ahead of the market,” said Rod Prosser, Ten’s director of revenue and client partnerships. “Our share of the capital city free-to-air television advertising market has now increased for 15 months in a row, which is a testament to the success of our programming and the success of our partnership with Multi Channel Network.”

The SMI figures also reveal that the regional television networks are continuing to face rough trading conditions with a 7.3% fall in revenues in May, year-on-year.

In the print category both newspapers and magazines posted double-digit declines in spend, with newspaper revenue falling 19.6% to $41.7m and magazines falling 26.1% to $13.6m. Newspapers have long argued that SMI does not represent their total revenue and last month launched a new metric which shows their direct sales. 

Outdoor was again the star revenue performer, up 22.8% to $77m in May

SMI Australian/NZ managing director, Jane Schulze, noted that its government category had seen a surge in spend on the back of the political parties’ election campaigns.

“Australia’s advertising market continues to enjoy higher demand and this month much of that has unsurprisingly come from the Government category due to higher Federal election-related spending,” said Schulze.

“Government ad spend emerged as the second largest category this month with its total more than doubling, year-on-year, to $52.3 million.

“The greatest share of that spend went to TV (35%) followed by digital (27.4%) then press (13.6%) and radio (12.4%). And the parties look to be targeting regional media with the dollar increases in regional radio and press higher than their metropolitan counterparts.”

SMI noted that while total agency bookings had declined to $622.5m it believed the addition of late digital bookings at the end of the month would ensure a positive result overall.


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