SMI Data: March Enjoys Better Than Expected Ad Bookings, As Newspapers Surge 30.2%

SMI Data: March Enjoys Better Than Expected Ad Bookings, As Newspapers Surge 30.2%
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Strong growth in newspaper ad spend is the common early COVID-19 ad spend trend across the Australian and New Zealand media markets, although total media market trends vary markedly in March.

Australian media agency bookings are back 10.6 per cent in March as a lower level than usual of late digital bookings failed to push the market into a single-digit decline, as had been expected. However, if the figures were normalised for last year’s pre-election spike in political party/union bookings the market total is back 9.3 . But in New Zealand media agency bookings grew 1.1 per cent, giving that market its third consecutive month of growth.

And as the first social restrictions began to take effect in late March we can see some evidence of the market reaction in these SMI figures, with the most obvious being the growth in newspaper bookings.

Growth in Australian national newspaper bookings was the strongest in any media this month with the total soaring 30.2 per cent, while in NZ total media Agency bookings to newspapers lifted 35.7 per cent to give that media its highest March ad spend since 2017.

SMI AU/NZ Managing director Jane Ractliffe said as the COVID pandemic hit the NZ media was in a stronger financial position than Australia’s as NZ’s media has recorded a four per cent increase in financial year ad spend while in Australia the market is back 6.6 per cent over that period.

“This context is important as going forward we can see future confirmed bookings in NZ are already slightly above that evident in Australia, and that stands to reason as confidence in the NZ media market has been at a far higher level for the past nine months,’” she said.

For the month of April, SMI’s Forward Pacings data shows that with a week of trading still to go the value of ad spend in the Australian market in April was 57 per cent of that achieved in April 2019 (excluding digital) while in New Zealand the value of confirmed media was 59.7 per cent of that reported in April last year.

“Those figures suggest that in both the Australian and New Zealand media markets we should see declines in media agency bookings of about 30 per cent in April, although the final results won’t be known until we collect more data in just over a week’s time,” Ractliffe said.

And she said SMI already has some good visibility into the media markets for May, with 31 per cent of the value of NZ’s May 2019 ad spend already confirmed and 28 per cent of Australia’s May 2019 bookings guaranteed even before the trading month has begun.

“And we can see many product categories are already showing bullish levels of media investment in May, suggesting the market looks set to improve on the April results,’” Ractliffe said.

“In Australia, advertisers in the household supplies category have already guaranteed 91 per cent of last year’s total investment for May and in NZ ad spend from the other financial services category is already 40 per cent above that recorded in May 2019,” she said.

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