TV posts strong recovery but overall February ad spend down 2.6%

Television continues to lead the way as the Australian media market recovers from COVID-19, and it was one of the few sectors that reported growth as ad spend fell 2.6% year-on-year overall.

Ad spend in Australia dipped to $557.9 million for the month of February, an improvement on January when it fell -7.3%, according to Standard Media Index (SMI) data.

Television ad spend grew by 8.5%, with metropolitan TV up 12% in the latest figures released by SMI. The Australian Open’s delay from January to February was a key factor in helping push spend higher.

After several consecutive months of strong growth, barely slowing down throughout a COVID-impacted 2020, digital spend was up just 1.2%. That result can be attributed to a fall in spend for search (-8.4%), despite growth in Social Media (+12.7) and Social Media (+12.3%) ad spend.

Radio was back -10.9% on the corresponding prior reporting period, with outdoor (-22.3%) and cinema (-70%) also falling.

Spend in newspapers (-22.3%) and magazines (-48.3%) also fell year-on-year, though several publications either excited the market or eased off in circulation over the past 12 months.

SMI February 2021 Ad Spend [click to enlarge]

SMI AUNZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said was clear the industry is facing a “two-speed recovery” from the COVID advertising downturn.

“Television delivered very strong growth in February and really underpinned the market as total TV ad spend grew by more than $18 million. But this month’s advertising trends would best be described as patchy given the varying trends across the key digital and outdoor media,’’ she said.

“Key outdoor sectors such as aviation and transit continue to be affected by COVID given fears of travel disruption, while in the digital media there was also a large decline in spending onto comparison websites as well as search.”

Ractliffe said despite the surprising slowdown for digital, it was promising to see premium content sites have a 7% bump in spend.

February is also expected to be the last month of lower ad demand, with SMI Forward Pacings data predicting year-on-year growth from March onwards.

SMI Forwards Bookings [click to enlarge]

Ractliffe added: “SMI recorded the largest declines in history in April and May 2020 so the prior year comparisons are very easy and we’re expecting very strong double-digit advertising market growth for all media in those months.

“The only question will be where advertisers allocate their increased ad spend across the media, so subscribers to our Forward Pacings data will have a key competitive advantage as they get an early view of product category ad spend and will be able to direct their sales teams to the categories showing the strongest demand.”

Ractliffe also took the opportunity to welcome back IPG Mediabrands data into SMI’s Australian database.


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