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Olympics helps TV ad spend in July jump above pre-COVID levels

Australia’s advertising market continues to remain resilient according to the Standard Media Index (SMI) early July data, which sows a double-digit growth, partly boosted by the Tokyo Olympics broadcast on Seven, which resulted in an impressive 41.9% increase in TV ad spend, with the TV total coming in $33 million above what was reported for July 2019.

The results follow the resent results of ad spend returning to pre-COVID levels of June 2019 and also being the highest ever month recorded in a first half in SMI history.


SMI AUNZ managing director, Jane Ractliffe, said SMI’s interim July data release – which does not yet have late digital media bookings included – showed the value of advertising demand was already up 18.3% from last July, and when digital media ad spend was removed to make the data like-for-like then total growth soared 40.8%

On that basis July bookings are so far just $6 million below that achieved in the pre-COVID levels of July 2019.

SMI: Forward Pacings Data [Click to enlarge]

Despite the latest COVID outbreaks which have led to shutdowns across Sydney and Melbourne for much of the past month, the market was so far staying the course, with no evidence of any reduced demand yet visible in SMI’s Forward Pacings data (which tracks the value of future confirmed advertising payments over the last three years).

“With more than half the month of August to go we can already see the value of ad spend for the month is only 2% below that achieved for the whole of August last year, highlighting another month of huge demand, while the level of ad demand now seen for September is well above where it was at this point over the past two years,” she said.

“This also mirrors what we’re hearing from our media agency partners… with the first wave of COVID last year there was an instant retraction of ad spend but that’s definitely not happening this time. The market may be more cautious, but there’s not the instant mass cancellation of campaigns that we saw last time as the market has become more accustomed to managing the new COVID environment.”

Other media to also performed well in July included outdoor media, which saw a 98% increase in ad spend; radio bookings are up 12% and advertisers are returning strongly to cinema with the media reporting July ad spend of $3.5 million compared to $179,000 last year.

And in other SMI news, a new retail online digital sector has been introduced to the database this month to provide more focus on the emerging e-commerce/retail market.

“One of the key trends emerging from the COVID crisis has been the increase in online shopping in all its forms, and as more advertisers use retail websites as an advertising platform we wanted to ensure we were correctly tracking this in the database,” Ractliffe said.

This is the second new media sector introduced into the SMI dataset this year, with a programmatic outdoor sector joining as a new part of the outdoor media landscape in April this year.

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