ANALYSIS - Australian advertising market defies economic uncertainty

By AdNews | 3 November 2022
Credit: John Arano at Unsplash

Australia's advertising market is continuing its strong run despite global reports of brands pausing or pulling back ad spend.

In September, with bookings through media agencies jumped 6.6% to $774.9 million, according to SMI (Standard Media Index) numbers.

And forward bookings show the surge continuing.

Outdoor and Cinema media lead the pack, as automotive and travel advertisers return with strength.

Natasha Pelly, media analytics director, PMX: "With news of many brands cutting ad spend abroad and a number of global media companies forecasting revenue losses, most did expect some softening of the ad market to follow in Australia.
"Yet again though, we have been strongly reassured by the latest SMI figures. From a year-to-date perspective, the 2022 growth figures are incredibly strong at +9%, despite the rapid resurgence we witnessed in 2021.
"Importantly, we are seeing recovery accelerate across channels worst-hit by the pandemic (outdoor, linear radio, cinema). This is happening in tandem with digital ad spend growth, evidence that advertisers aren’t simply switching their ad spend from more ‘traditional’ channels to digital – ad budgets are growing.
"It is good to see brands recognising the value of the whole media mix and of the synergies that can emerge through cross-channel planning and optimisation."
John Vlasakakis, co-Founder, Next&Co: "We are seeing record numbers for October and this isn’t just an end of year rush, we are seeing standout numbers for brands with 2023 spending too.


"So it isn’t all doom and gloom with this alleged recession coming, the ad market will remain strong!"

Melissa Roberts, Director, The Advertising Room: "We are predicting similar growth across the October and November period as the major retailers focus on their big Christmas brand and product campaigns.  As pointed out in SMI September spends the retail category has shown the fastest growth.

"We are also expecting more of a shift across media types with gaming and YouTube taking more share especially for our specialised categories, with changes in the CTV landscape with Disney +, Netflix and Binge all to impact channel decisions."

Steven King, Frontier Australia Co-CEO: "Once again the Australian ad market, and the economy in general, is proving to be resilient and robust.

"It’s difficult to avoid hearing all the reasons it should be struggling – cost of living pressures, interest rate rises, property values declining, war, supply chain issues, and so on.

"But our market keeps steaming ahead and appears likely to do so at least into the New Year. Next year may bring a new dawn, but until then consumers are still spending, and as long as they are spending, we will continue to see a healthy ad market."

Paul Wilkinson, commercial director, Half Dome: "The resilience of the Aussie ad market is proving itself to be quite remarkable. The fact we are seeing such growth levels despite the backdrop of a global economic downturn showcases the confidence that businesses have that when they invest in the ad market, they see a demonstrable positive return on their investment.

"There are no real surprises from a channel perspective. TV is back 1.1%, which further supports that inflation and continued decline in audience levels are placing a drag on investment, which instead is being diverted to other channels such as outdoor, cinema and OLV. As said previously, I expect this to continue and maintain that view. In fact, I expect this to be further exacerbated by the entry of Netflix into the market later this month. Netflix’s entry will more than likely rekindle the slowing growth of online video.

"Audio deserves to be mentioned, with +5.6% across traditional radio and double-digit growth in digital audio, which feels well deserved and a long time coming. This will likely continue as advertisers seek cost-efficient, quick-to-market solutions to share their messaging.

"Overall another positive outcome, pushing us to record levels of investment."

Rob Maxwell, investment director, Speed: "The September ad spend figures are very encouraging given global macro factors and concerns about their impact upon marketing budgets in this market.

"It has been proven time and again that staying active in market is critical to business success even in more difficult times and so these September figures will be welcomed by most.

"I’m not surprised with outdoor seeing strong growth in September, however the extent of that growth is quite incredible! The out Of home industry and partners did brilliant work during the challenging COVID period to modernise their inventory, trading mechanics, measurement and go-to-market strategies to really set themselves up for success as we exited lockdown and advertisers restarted their brand building.

"Similarly cinema was arguably the hardest hit channel of all by lockdowns and as difficult as that period was at least it ensured a bumper release slate for once they had reopened. That eagerly anticipated content when coupled with the traditional increased visitation in more financially challenging times was always likely to usher in a strong period for cinema.

"It’s also great to see such robust figures for other channels such as radio, news and magazines in both traditional and digital versions.

"By contrast, the end of lockdowns and return to life outside the home was always going to pose problematic for TV networks to maintain viewership, which has been a challenge this year across many demographics and so seeing spend retract slightly isn’t a huge surprise.

"Despite the challenges this year the networks have come out with a strong tech and audience led approaches in their upfronts for 2023 to create higher engagement with their various platforms for better audience stickiness and retention."

Chris Parker, CEO, Awaken: "Outdoor and cinema are showcasing just how strong advertiser confidence is in consumers moving into Christmas. This time last year, outdoor in particular had some of the best distress packages we have ever seen. This year it is almost impossible to get a booking. Advertisers are spending large amounts of their budgets, consumers are mobile, and as much as the RBA does not want them to, consumers are spending."

"Retail is the channel to watch over the holiday season with Black Friday fast approaching and then Christmas, we are seeing retail bookings increase and some of the media vendors are already booked out until January. It is showing a level of confidence in the upcoming spending period that should eclipse last year.

"As every industry begins its summer campaigns to grab attention, we are expecting to see a larger increase in media and consumer spending which will be an all-around boost for the media and advertising industry and makes us wonder... what recession?"

Mo Moubayed, cofounder of outdoor media analytics group Veridooh: “Strong growth figures for OOH in August could be said to be an anomaly but backing that up in September shows that the growth in OOH is not a coincidence.

"Based on what we are seeing for October, this growth should continue, firmly positioning the growth in OOH as a trend. We need to caveat this - YOY growth is compared to a lockdown-affected month but nonetheless, it shows marketers understand the value OOH can deliver for their brands with certainty. 

“The last quarter of the year, prior to Christmas and the holiday seasons is a notoriously good time for astute marketers to build brand awareness, filling and nurturing the top of their funnels prior to the shopping and holiday season.

"Not to mention, more people are out and about in Spring, with the events season in full swing and more workplaces trying to lure people back into the office. OOH is a no-brainer, so we expect to see further growth over October and November. 

“That being said, there are murmurs in the market that ad spend should start slowing, but realistically we don’t expect that until early next year.”


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