Agency ad spend has slumped for the sixth month in a row

By Chris Pash | 6 May 2019

Australia's national agency ad spend had its hardest March quarter fall in a decade, according to numbers from the Standard Media Index (SMI).

The media agency market, suffering from weak business confidence ahead of the federal election, in March reported its sixth consecutive month of lower demand with total bookings dropping 4.7% to $583.6 million from last year’s record high.

The slump was led by cinema (down 30.4%), magazines (20.1%) and newspapers (24.8%). The only major media reporting higher bookings in March was outdoor, up 2.4% year-on-year.

Here's the trend this year compared to the last three years:

smi trend march 2019

Three-quarters of all SMI Product Categories reported lower demand in March, with Food/Produce/Dairy back 23% from March last year, retail ad spend down 12% and ad spend from the largest category of Automotive Brand slipping 7.7%.

The lower demand in the month of March has ensured the decline in media investment for the March quarter is now 4.2%, the largest fall SMI has tracked since 2009 when the market was hit by a downturn in confidence during the global financial crisis.

Jane Ractliffe, SMI AUNZ managing director, says it's now unlikely the market will start to pick up until well after the federal election.

"We already know this year’s April data has been negatively impacted by the extended Easter and ANZAC Day break in April this year compared to the smaller timing impact in April last year when Easter started at the end of March,’’ she says.

"So the downturn in media investment is not going to start to pick up until after the election when hopefully the new government will be able to restore business confidence and therefore inspire businesses to start reinvesting in advertising.

"The good news for major media is that SMI has always seen large upticks in advertising expenditure following periods of lower growth… the only question is when that growth will start to kick in."

The numbers for March:

SMI Index March 2019

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