SMI Data: Tough Christmas Pulls Ad Spends Back 3.5% For The Calendar Year

SMI Data: Tough Christmas Pulls Ad Spends Back 3.5% For The Calendar Year
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Australia’s media agency market has ended its strong run of seven years of consecutive growth, as an unexpectedly difficult December quarter ensured total bookings for calendar year 2019 were back 5.3% from last year’s record result to $6.8 billion.

In contrast, advertising demand was stronger in NZ in CY2019, with the Rugby World Cup and local elections helping lift the value of Kiwi Agency spend by 0.5 per cent from CY2018 to $NZD1.03 billion, which was just $NZD52 million below the record spend achieved there in CY2017.

While the NZ market picked up in the second half of the year end, it was a different story in Australia with advertising demand worsening (demand fell 6.4 per cent in the last six months of the year compared to 4.2 per cetn in the first six months). Demand then fell further in the December quarter with total spend back 7.9 per cent, but was back a lesser 6.9 per cent for the month of December.

But SMI’s AU/NZ managing director Jane Ractliffe said SMI’s forward booking data – which shows the future value of actual confirmed ad spend – is providing a more positive outlook, especially in Australia.

“We can see that for the month of February the value of Australian agency expenditure is already at 79 per cent of the total achieved in February 2018 (when digital media bookings are removed as they are often paid retrospectively), and that data was extracted from the payment system on January 30,” Ractliffe said.

“In NZ, the forwards for February are slightly lower at 74 per cent of the value of last year’s February ad spend but their forwards for March are similar to Australia’s with the value of the market already 50 per cent booked.’’

In Australia, all major media are reporting lower December quarter and CY2019 bookings but outdoor and cinema are both reporting higher ad spend for the month of December (up 4.3 per cent and 19.5 per cent respectively).

And for the first time this month, SMI has split out ad spend to the largest 10 digital content publishers from the ‘long tail’ of Digital websites. This has highlighted the ongoing strength of the larger digital publishers as their total bookings for the year are collectively 5.8 per cent higher while spend to long tail websites fell 35 per cent. Total digital bookings for the year were back 0.9 per cent.

And in other further SMI data development, it as this month provided the following new advertising insights:

  •  Restaurant category now split into three sub categories, highlighting how the new food delivery service trend has grown the category’s bookings. Quick service restaurants are now also shown as their own sub-category
  •  Travel category – Ocean cruises and river cruises added as new sub categories.
  • ViacomCBS created as a newly merged entity for the first time and debuting as the market’s fifth largest over the full year period.

Ractilffe said SMI now publishes monthly ad spend for 130 Australian product categories, with that data shown for all major media and digital and outdoor ad formats (online video, digital outdoor, static outdoor etc).

That detail is increasingly important, as the CY2019 period is notable for large swings in category- based demand, with the largest category of auto brand seeing spend fall 7.6 per cent this year, while retail bookings are back 5.2 per cent and domestic bank ad spend fell 11.6 per cent from the highs achieved during last year’s Royal Commission.

On a positive note, insurance has become Australia’s third largest Category after growing 12.5 per cent this year and restaurants have lifted their media investment by 7.7 per cent.

In NZ, outdoor achieved the strongest revenue growth among the major media last year with total spend up 12.1 per cent to a record level of $NZD154 million. Digital bookings were flat but radio bookings lifted 3.8 per cent and cinema revenue grew 8.3%.

The NZ market was fuelled by strong local election-related Government category growth (up 22.1 per cent) while media investment from utilities lifted 32.7 per cent and airlines/travel agents grew NZ ad spend 13.6 per cent last year.

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