Social media ad spend increased 25.3%, while newspapers and magazines suffer significant digital decline

Despite ongoing privacy and transparency scandals engulfing social media platforms, media agencies increased their spend with social media sites by 25.3% for the month of March, compared to the same period last year, Standard Media Index (SMI) figures suggest.

During the same period, newspapers and magazines suffered a significant blow, particularly in digital. Newspaper digital bookings via media agencies declined 22.0%, while the digital properties of magazines suffered a 23.7% decline.


SMI reports on media agency bookings

The numbers exclude programmatic and do not account for direct bookings between brands and publishers, with SMI noting it was actually the strongest result for newspapers in two years with regional press growing 6.6% and national mastheads growing by 5.9%.

Overall, the newspaper category declined by 13.3%, with the physical properties declining less than their digital counterparts – down by 8.1%.

Magazines on the other hand, had a worse month for their print component. Bookings via media agencies for ads in physical magazines were down by 23.7%, bringing the overall magazine category down by 20.0%.

Cinema, which in recent months has been climbing while its traditional media compatriots fall, declined by 13.7% in March. February data showed cinema climbing by 3.0% (while magazines fell 23.0% and newspapers were down 19.4%), and in January cinema was up 37.9% (with newspapers down 34.1% and magazines even worse off at -42.1%).

Television’s decline for March was minimal, with the overall category down by 1.6% as digital grew by 2.3% and traditional broadcast fell 1.8%.

Overall, the SMI release painted a positive picture, saying Australia’s media agency market was riding a strong wave of growth, with a 1.9% increase in monthly ad spend to $632.7m – a record March quarter and financial year figure.

The results can somewhat be attributed to early Commonwealth Games advertising spending, the South Australian election and the financial services royal commission, SMI said.

Government ad spend was up 56% year-on-year, which is at least in part due to activity in SA, SMI said.

Retail advertising was also up $6.1m, while domestic bank spending climbed $5.7m and other financial services operations climbed $5.3m.

Over the first quarter of 2018, spending was up overall 4.2% to $1.65bn.

In March, SMI announced it was changing its reporting dates to better reflect media spending habits and allow for late bookings.

“As the digital media continues to grow in size, so too has the degree to which SMI’s mid-month data is being affected by late bookings to that media,” said SMI AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe in the announcement at the time.

“That’s not going to change as the nature of digital media means it’s impossible to know the final cost of a campaign before the end of the month and to therefore pay for it in that time frame.

“But by re-releasing all data at the end of the month we not only pick up the late digital bookings but also the lesser number of late bookings for other media which means our stakeholders no longer need to wait another two weeks to see fully updated market changes.”


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