SMI: TV ad spend growth ‘magnified’ due to Easter date change says Bohemia’s Theo Zisoglou

Ad spend across TV during March was up by 12.7% year-on-year, the sector’s best result in the post-GFC era, however Bohemia’s Theo Zisoglou puts the growth down to the changing dates of Easter.

Theo Zisoglou: TV uplift year-on-year magnified due to Easter dates

For March, total agency bookings were 2% higher year-on-year at $590.9m. TV media reaped the bulk of these gains with bookings up 12.7% to $266.8m – a level of growth for TV not seen since November 2010, according to Standard Media Index’s latest figures.

Zisoglou, Bohemia head of media and investment, told Mumbrella the “obvious reason” for the jump in 2017, was the Easter long weekend and associated public holidays. In 2016, Easter fell at the tail-end of March and the two-week Easter period, he said, is “where spend traditional declines”.

“So the uplift YOY seems to be magnified due to that reason,” he said.

“We did see strong demand for airtime in March but we also know the networks were trading hard so probably not getting the same yield as a year ago.

“We should probably see a similar trend in April the opposite way with Easter, school holidays and Anzac Day so close together, and then we will probably see it lift again in May aided by some big programs in The Voice and Masterchef back on air.”

For Ashely Earnshaw, Carat chief investment officer, television’s positive growth is due to a strong ratings performance led by Nine Entertainment.

“The positive growth in television can be attributed to the positive start to ratings performance led by Nine Entertainment, the way that that the medium has been sold year to date and new ways to automate and target audiences creating a halo effect seen in the performance of STV,” he said.

“The timings of Easter have also been favourable to the TV revenue performance across March and will impact April’s revenue. The TV medium may also be benefitting from the change in market investment confidence towards certain elements in digital, with digital back overall -7.9% March year on year on current SMI data. The spring is back in the step of the TV publishers.”

Outdoor also delivered a positive result, with year-on-year growth up 17.8%.

Earnshaw said out-of-home has taken advantage of “the opportunity of accountability, digital  and technology”.

“This has continued into Q1 2017. The signs are that the out of home publishers will continue to meet the needs of our clients and drive favourable revenue results in 2017, off an improved 2016 base.”

For Zisoglou the positive growth in outdoor is due to the investments made by the outdoor companies.

“The increases we are seeing in outdoor is set to continue as they continue to upgrade their inventory and also become more sophisticated in how they sell their product,” he said.

“They have all invested in the right research and tech to create a product that is very attractive to advertisers and clearly this is working for them.”

However, it was more doom and gloom for other media, with declines of 2.3% for radio (excluding digital), 16.4% for magazines (excluding digital) and 25% for newspapers (excluding digital and late bookings). Cinema was down 5.2%.

SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Schulze said the timing of Easter last year was a major factor in this month’s stronger result.

“Although the market has bounced back in March, it’s not yet at the levels seen in March 2015 before the especially Easter-affected month of March experienced last year,” she said.

“However, if the digital media does deliver results more similar to that seen through the year – and does not deliver lower bookings as it did in February – we could see late digital bookings push the market back to that even higher level.”

February saw digital ad spend go backwards for the first time since April 2009, with spend during February down 1.7% year-on-year.

Zisoglou said it was important to “break down” where the decline in February came from.

“It’s very interesting to say the least,” he said.

“IO-based display, video and mobile advertising as well as ad network/affiliate spend was down, while the exchanges/trade desks have seen a significant uplift. Search was effectively flat and social was up slightly.

“The trend seems to be a lot more spend going through the exchanges and at a lower yield than the traditional IO-based campaigns but with a higher-quality product due to more brand safety measures and integration with more verification partners.

“Coupled with more access to third-party data, audience segmentation and the inclusion of more publishers in the exchanges we will likely see this trend continue.”

Earnshaw: Revenue performance of digital will depends on how digital publishers react to challenges concerning clients

Earnshaw said concerns over brand safety have “put downwards pressure on digital investment”.

“The revenue performance of digital as an overall channel into 2017 will depend on how digital publishers react to the challenges that our clients have concerns about,” he said.

Digital has posted an interim result for March of a decline of 7%.

According to SMI, events and timing issues affecting March’s ad spend data included no Easter break in March 2017 while it fell in March in 2016 effectively removing six trading days from the month; AFL Women’s Football League broadcast for the first time (on the Seven Network) in 2017; and, one extra Friday in March 2017 compared to March 2016.


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