Ad spend suffers largest decline in 22 months

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 18 April 2016
Advertisers spent far less this March than last year.

A huge $44 million drop in TV media agency ad bookings and declines across all major categories except cinema has led to the largest year-on-year decline in media bookings for nearly two years, according to the latest SMI figures.

The data is the first that doesn't include IPG Mediabrands, which decided to pull out of the SMI this month. Standard Media Index CEO Jane Schulze explains the SMI stripped out IPG's figures from last year to ensure comparability, but fewer figures are being made publicly available because it would be "unfair to our committed agency partners".

Overall, media agency bookings for March declined 10.5% yoy to $549 million - the biggest drop in nearly two years. 

Schulze says there was a "perfect storm" of timing issues to explain this, including early Easter (a non-ratings TV period) falling in March this year. 

There was also a dearth of events compared with 2015, which had the ICC Cricket World Cup and NSW Election. This year's lunar calendar also affected OOH bookings, while March 2015 benefitted from an extra Sudnay and Monday.

Television suffered the largest yoy drop of $44 million (15%) to $237 million. The biggest percentage decline was magazines, which lost nearly $5 million in bookings (24.8%) to $15 million. This was about the same amount as newspapers shed as its bookings fell 10% to $45 million.

Digital, usually in growth mode, fell by 5.7% to $8 million. Radio (down 6.8%) and outdoor (down 1.8%) also had falls.

Cinema advertising, up nearly 30% to $6.5 million, provided the only bright spot. 

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