SMI: Adspend spend down in February as print continues to be hammered

Ad spend across print, particularly newspapers, was hammered during February, with total ad bookings for the month down 13% year-on-year.

With last February being a leap year and featuring an extra Monday, Saturday and Sunday compared to this year’s February, print media was particularly affected as newspapers and magazines produced fewer editions.

According to the Standard Media Index’s latest figures, media spend in February totalled $467.7m.

Newspapers – excluding digital and late bookings – were down 35% year-on-year while magazines – excluding digital – were down 18.8%.

Cutrone: Print has seen “a bit of damage”

Daniel Cutrone, head of investment at media agency Blue 449, told Mumbrella: “They have definitely taken a bit of damage, 35% down in February, overall 26% down. We’re just continuing to see some of the major advertisers pull out of print and that’s not slowing.

“We’ll see those digital figures start to pick up once they come into the fold of the broader figure. Advertisers just aren’t seeing the same return in print as they have in the past.”

When questioned if magazines in particular are feeling the impact of the decision to pull out of the Audited Media Association of Australia’s print audit, Cutrone said he doesn’t believe it’s being felt as a “direct result just yet”.

“But it could come into play in the next couple of months,” he said.

Radio was also impacted by one less day in the month with February ad spend down 11.3%.

Industry golden child outdoor saw ad spend go down after reporting growth in January, with a February year-on-year decline of 12.2%.

Cutrone said: “It was probably a combination of the shorter February month. The overall market has gone backwards so the outdoor market has improved slightly against that.

“2017 has just had a slow start to the year and advertisers are in general pulling back and being a little more reserved coming into the new year.”

Cutrone said the hesitation to spend is a result of advertisers reviewing their “entire marketing operations and plans”.

“We’re seeing this across a number of our clients where their investments are increasing in the consumer experience like tech and data and that’s probably taken a bigger driving seat of their marketing dollars while traditional ad spend is slowing,” he said.

Television – excluding digital – was down 6% while digital reported an interim result of down 19% however once late digital bookings are included at the end of the month it is expected the category will revert to a flat or slightly positive result.

Cinema was down 13%.

Looking to the year ahead, Cutrone said he expects July and August to pick up in terms of ad spend.

“The Olympics had some advertisers that shied away during that period. In 2017 that’s going to see an improvement around the middle of the year with more stability and less major events. We should see advertisers coming back slowly throughout the year,” he said.

SMI AU/NZ Managing Director Jane Schulze said SMI’s Product Category data showed the softer demand was widespread with the majority of large categories reporting double digit declines in advertising expenditure in February 2017.

Jane Schulze: Softer demand was widespread

One of those categories is Government, which grew rapidly in the lead up to last year’s Federal Election, but is now reporting a $6m decline in bookings (-26.2%) to $16.9 million.

“Australia’s Agency market will increasingly face tougher comparative periods as we move closer to the one year anniversary of the Federal election last July, and then the Rio Olympics in August,” she said.

“However, March 2016 experienced a similar level of demand as we’ve seen for February 2017 so hopefully that may make March an easier month from a comparative standpoint.”


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.