Agency ad spend was down just 2.3% for the full financial year to the end of June, according to early SMI numbers reported by investment bank UBS.
For the half year to June, spend was down 4.9%
Based on June SMI data, excluding government spend, total bookings were down 11.3% on the same month last year.
That would make the ninth month in a row to see a fall in agency spend.
However, the fall for the month was just 3.1% if digital spend is excluded. This category is expected to jump when late numbers come in.
Digital bookings are usually revised upwards for late bookings, so the numnbers for June and the full financial year are expected to improve when final numbers are in.
The final May numbers showed signs that overall advertising demand is starting to improve. For the month, total underlying demand fell 1.6% to $595.9 million, a distinct improvement on preliminary numbers showing a 11.6% fall.
The slowing in the decline was attributed to late digital bookings, and the press and outdoor media.
However, UBS analysts say June metro TV bookings (ex-government) were down 1.9%, regional TV bookings dropped 0.5%, metro radio -1.2%, regional radio -16.9%, newspapers -15.8%, outdoor up 3.4% (officlal OMA data suggests June quarter bookings were 5.2% higher), and digital -30.6%.
"We expect the digital growth rate to improve significantly once late bookings are accounted for," the analysts, Eric Choi, Tom Beadle, and Minnie Tong, say in a note to clients.
The year to date number excludes direct government spend and federal government ad spend. Both are not captured by SMI.
"As such, SMI could potentially be understating 2H growth," the analysts write.
The weaker advertiser categories include banks, down 38% or $12 million, food / produce / dairy down 20% or $8 million, gambling 24% or $8 million, and auto brands 6% or $4 million.
On the positive side, travel ad spend was up 25% or $8 million and telcos 14% or $3 million.
The UBS analysts say the media sector is driven by a combination of advertising, consumer spending and corporate spending, which are inherently difficult to predict.
The preliminary numbers in detail:
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