November ad spend drops 11% as pre-Christmas retail boom fails to emerge

The Standard Media Index’s (SMI) latest ad spend figures are in, with Australia’s market back 11% in November after the usual pre-Christmas retail boom failed to materialise. Instead, retail ad spending was back 17% and specialty retail down 15.6%.

November marks the 15th consecutive month of decline for the media agency-funded market, with automotive and retail accounting for 35% of the month’s decline.

The result is in stark contrast to the New Zealand market, which fell 1.2% overall but saw retail grow 25.4% year-on-year. Specialty retail was also up 13.6%.

“There’s very different trends emerging on either side of the Tasman within retail, although the one similarity in both markets is the ongoing growth in ad spend by online retailers,” said SMI’s AU/NZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe.

In addition, there was an 81% decrease in political party/ union ad spend, since November 2018 saw activity ramping up ahead of May’s 2019 federal election.

Locally, outdoor was the only format up in November (+0.4%). In New Zealand, outdoor (+3.4%), digital (+3.8%) and cinema (+50.2%) experienced climbs.

It’s been a tough period for retailers and retail ad spend

Despite the poor Australian performance, Ractliffe suggested December looks more promising, with 89% of bookings’ value already confirmed.

“And within that data we can already see higher December ad spend is being reported by key categories such as insurance, domestic banks, government, food/ produce/ dairy, communications and recruitment,” she said.

In New Zealand, 94.5% of the value of December bookings is confirmed.

In September, the SMI predicted that the market would return to growth in October. But this was not the case, with October producing an “unexpectedly weak” result, back 8.5%.


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