Media buyers on the current market outlook

With lockdowns persisting across the country's two largest cities, Mumbrella's Calum Jaspan spoke to Ryvalmedia's Marcus Betschel, PHD's Joanna Barnes, Media 33's Jenna Lambert and Spinach's Ben Willee to get their thoughts on the market outlook.

With the Australian market posting four successive months of growth beyond 40%, optimism is floating about, despite the country’s two largest cities remaining in extended lockdowns. 

In July, SMI data showed market bookings rose by 41.8% on the same month in 2020, in particular television bookings being aided by the Tokyo Olympics, helping the category to its best result for the month since 2016. 

To find out more about how the market is feeling, and how the rest of the year is looking like panning out, Mumbrella went out to a number of media buyers to see how clients are feeling, what is doing well, and whether the lockdowns will be a “blip” or maybe something more. 

Marcus Betschel, Ryvalmedia – general manager

Marcus Betschel (middle)

“Obviously for some categories there is a wait and see (if spend will taper off), however what we’re seeing and hearing is the contrary, with so much pent-up consumer spend, the end of the year represents a major opportunity for brands. Tapering spend or going quiet is giving your competitors a free kick during one of the biggest spending periods of the year. They have the holiday season to leverage as well as the prospect of many Australians perhaps being out of state-wide lockdowns.  

We expect many brands will increase spend over the coming months as consumer sentiment improves with vaccination rates and further steps towards a more normal Christmas season. 

There has been a lot less hesitance than last year, if any.  People seem more ready to accept that there will be stop/start due to ongoing lockdowns, but a full expectation that not only will the market return to normal when we properly return, but potentially there is a small boom on the other side of this. The only think these recent lockdowns have impacted is channel allocation due to reduced mobility. A greater focus on my flexible digital spend that can adapt to changing circumstances in real time. 

Although there’s definitely some sad faces with the current lockdown, there is none of the gloom that came with the onset of the pandemic last year, as both brands and consumers have a sense of normalcy around current events.  

Brands and their teams still know that investing in a solid mix of channels will still buy them the best and most relevant reach and efficacy.  

Whilst there has been a solid swing to TV and localised out-of-home, brands have also used the pandemic conditions to maximise their investment in digital technology and internal practices to sit alongside their increased spend within digital platforms. Of course, Google and Facebook are the biggest winners here, but brands are putting in place infrastructure to measure and plan their spend allocation with a more strategic lens as well as test and learn for diversification of digital platform spend.”

Joanna Barnes, PHD – head of national trading. 

Joanna Barnes

“Over the past ten years Current Year Q4 ad spend has consistently increased by 6% vs the prior quarter.  In 2020 the shift of ad spend into Q4 was significant at up 38% driven by the volatility of advertising during the pandemic. We’re currently seeing investment shift from Q3 to Q4 (due to on-going lockdowns) across a number of brands and categories but overall certainly not tapering off at all.

We have a pretty resilient national economy and there is increasing momentum around the vaccination roll out.  The lockdown has impacted the media mix and creative message with some channels faring better than others but overall I would say stability with small gains across different sectors.

In the first half of the year we’ve seen ad spend grow quarter on quarter across every channel, which you’d expect given the comparison data same time last year was when the pandemic hit and advertisers pulled a huge amount out of spend out of the market.  Key growth channels at this stage are online, broadcast television and audio followed by retail out-of-home. Given the strong demand in these channels, we’d expect there to have a knock on effect pushing spend into other channels too.”

Jenna Lambert, Media 33 – managing director.

Jenna Lambert

“I anticipate brands will temporarily pause or slow spending during this current period, and that this will likely result in stronger spend across the Summer, early 2022 period when (we hope) the country re-opens with greater confidence.

I feel like there is a ‘blip’ feeling as we have all grown somewhat accustomed to this on/off situation, but the lack of clarity on when the most recent blip will end is probably causing some resistance because of the uncertainty.

Lockdowns continue to impact some brands more than others, causing moments of unrest as people keep needing to adjust and readjust to change.  However, it feels like we (clients, agencies, media sales) are all cognisant of the bigger situation at play, and we’re working hard to minimise impact and just do the best we all can to reduce stress & uncertainty by increasing communication and flexibility.

 Digital media is continuing to demonstrate that it can weather the storm of snap lockdowns.”

 Ben Willee, Spinach – general manager and media director

Ben Willee

“I’d certainly say once the lockdowns are over, there will be a huge pent-up demand. Absolutely, when Sydney gets ahead of this, things are going to go gangbusters.

When you’ve got the country only firing on half its cylinders, it’s a concern. So even though the ad market is growing, and the SMI is predicted to continue to grow, it’s going to be a tapered performance in Sydney.

There’s a lot of advertisers who might be planning for November Outdoor in New South Wales, and that market is going to be absolutely red hot because let’s assume the city comes out of that at the same time, all the advertisers are running campaigns elsewhere apart from Sydney, are now going to want to place them and it’s going to be really difficult.

I think the business community, in my experience, in Australia has handled this just exceptionally well. There’s a general positivity, there’s a general wellbeing, we’ve just got to mow along and do our best.”


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