Australia’s media agency market has experienced the softest advertising demand seen in almost 10 years in February, with total bookings back 8.3 per cent to $482.9 million from a record high February result in 2018.
The February decline of 8.3 per cent is the largest seen in the SMI database since April 2009, and the usual strength of the media Agency market is underscored by the fact that negative demand has only been recorded five times in SMI’s 12 years of data history.
The lower bookings were partly due to some timing issues as the Winter Olympics were broadcast in February 2018 and that month also featured exceptionally strong increases in domestic bank ad spend (up 56.6 per cent at the time) in the lead up to the Financial Services Royal Commission.
As a result all major media are reporting lower bookings this month, even with Government category advertising excluded to normalise the results.
And although television’s results were impacted by last year’s Olympics, SMI’s new Digital Client Count detail shows there were far fewer corporates advertising in February – at least in the digital media – with the number of large digital advertisers decreasing 17.3 per cent to 1,103.
SMI AUNZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said while the decline in financial sector ad spend was the primary driver of the market softness other product categories contributing to the malaise included toiletries/cosmetics (ad spend down 24.9 per cent YOY) and media companies (ad spend down 23.2 per cent).
“But there are also some positive signs in the data with SMI, for example, tracking ad spend by political parties and unions and in February – with the NSW and Federal elections approaching – we saw this category’s ad spend grow 52.5 per cent to $4.43 million,’’ she said.
“The television media scored the largest share of this investment (43 per cent), followed by Radio (19.1 per cent) and outdoor with 14.9 per cent of this category’s media investment.’’
And as with any monthly result there are some bright spots, with those for the February 2019 period including:
- The largest category of automotive brand grew its media investment 7.4 per cent in February
- Travel emerged as the 3rd largest category for the first time, driven by ad spend growth from cruise lines ( up 21.2 per cent ) and government tourist bureaus (up 30.6 per cent)
- Within subscription TV, the direct (non-automated) market continues to grow with its bookings up 16.7 per cent YOY
- Regional radio grew the value of its advertising sales 1.1 per cnet
The February result continues a bleak financial year thus far, with total bookings back 1.2 per cent to $4.56 billion with only the digital (up 2.6 per cent ), outdoor (up 6.7 per cent) and radio (up 2.5 per cent) reporting any growth.