Exclusive - Australians have their spend swagger on as advertising smashes records 

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 13 January 2022
Credit: Denisse Leon via Unsplash

Ad spend is expected to continue its record-breaking rise despite a dip in confidence due to the rise of the omicron variant, according to industry players.

Ad spend, as defined by media agency bookings, hit a record $852 million in November 2021 and early data for December shows a strong close to the year. 

Jane Ractliffe, SMI managing director AU/NZ: "Given the level of uncertainty within the economy, it’s incredible to see such a resilient advertising market.”

Ben Willee, general manager and media director, Spinach: “More good news for Australian media owners and investors. 

“While the economy is strong and consumer confidence remains high, it won’t be a surprise to anyone if the Jan-Dec 2021 market is stronger than pre pandemic levels.

“More uncertainty to come and challenges for media owners and traders to get the balance right between the many levers that impact price in an increasingly tight market.” 

Yaron Farizon, CEO of MediaCom AUNZ: “It’s been long known that advertising dollars lag slightly behind the GDP growth rate, and I think it is not surprising we saw record numbers looking at Australia’s growth in Q4 of 21. 

“Australians have their swagger back; consumers have been looking forward to this Christmas break more than ever, and their wallets are cashed up.

“Brands have been planning their recovery from the last year, and finally, they can capitalise on this new version of normality.

"Black Friday and Cyber Monday over November were again the most significant sales we have had (with online spending spike by 22.8%), with Aussies spending more per day and over a longer period, and brands want a slice of this.

"Retail chains had record sales during pre-Omicron. Brands need to follow these trends to maintain their SOV (share of voice) and capitalise on this growth.  

“I think as we move into 22, although it feels like it’s rearing its ugly head again in Q1 (following GDP slowdown in Q3 and pandemic peak), come Q2, we will be back to normal and see continued growth, specifically in OOH and Cinema as we return to being outdoors. 

“Video investment will continue to transverse as all advertisers become less focused on platforms and more focused on consumers. Monitoring GDP dynamics over time and counting in potential outbreaks we might experience in the future can give us a good explanation of consumer behaviour changes quarterly and capitalise on those changes disproportionally.” 

Simon Reid, National Head of Partnerships, Initiative: “Well it certainly is a welcomed headline. We always knew that it was going to be a strong finish to the year looking at post pandemic global trends. 

“Locally consumer sentiment was on the up leading into Q4 as we emerged from lockdown hibernation, the national vaccination rollout was also in full swing and the national household savings ratio for Q3 was 19% which was an increase on Q2. 

“So with the easing of COVID related restrictions across the east coast and cashed up consumers, we saw a number of categories re-enter the ad market that had been relatively dormant for far too long, finally get active such as travel and entertainment. Government ad spend growth also remained strong up by approx. 40% across November.

“As we now navigate Omicron, consumer confidence is taking a slight dip in the short term, but I expect the ad market to remain strong for the time being. 2022 is also an Election year, so we should see growth continue across most channels throughout 2022.”

Natasha Pelly, Media Analytics Director – Publicis Media Exchange: “We remain pleasantly surprised by the continued resilience of the ad market, despite ongoing uncertainty. Advertisers are, wherever possible, maintaining their investments and taking a more long-term view of the benefits of doing so. 

“In November, it was particularly good to see radio investment grow vs. 2019 for the first time. Though this puts overall radio ad spend 9% behind 2019, it’s a strong signal at the end of a challenging year. Of course, outdoor and cinema, which have suffered more directly from lockdowns, have been slower to recover. However, November was also a relatively encouraging month for those also. 

“The almost 40% growth in digital agency ad spend in November is phenomenal – and continues to demonstrate the pandemic’s catalytic impact on the digitisation of media planning and buying. However, there are strong signs for linear TV as well, with ‘real’ growth sitting at +2.7% vs. 2019.”

Sam Buchanan, General Manager, IMAA: “The latest ad spend numbers are not surprising, and I’m anticipating even stronger numbers for December.

“There is a tremendous appetite for BVOD with independent media agencies - we have seen this as the fastest-growing channel for members and I expect this to continue in 2022.

“Moving forward, the independent agencies are tremendously optimistic – in the November IMAA Pulse survey, 85% of members anticipated growth in 2022.

"While we are moving in uncharted waters with Omicron, media and health experts are expecting the variant to peak in late January, and hopefully, life will return to somewhat normal from February.

"I'm anticipating after the new year speedbumps, ad spend should be relatively positive - until another wave affects consumer confidence.

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